Farmington Hills teacher receives national recognition

By: Mark Vest | Farmington Press | Published August 23, 2022

 Danya Stump

Danya Stump

FARMINGTON — A Farmington Public Schools special education teacher was recognized this year by the Council for Exceptional Children for her work on behalf of children and youth with disabilities and/or gifts and talents, according to a district press release.

As it approached its 100th anniversary Aug. 10, the CEC shared the stories of 100 teachers around the world who have “shown a passion, dedication, and commitment to making a difference in the lives of their students.”  The organization is featuring a different educator each week on its website over the course of 100 weeks.

Danya Stump, Farmington Public Schools’ consultant/Child Find coordinator, was selected by the CEC to share her story. Child Find is a federal requirement established by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to identify, locate and evaluate children with disabilities from birth through age 21 who are in need of special education and related services.

According to a school press release she was selected for her commitment to supporting students with exceptionalities and continuously advancing the field of special education.

“Just the honor of being nominated for it was huge. I mean, 100 teachers across the country got selected, so that was a huge honor to me. Even if I didn’t get selected to be one of the 100, it was an honor that somebody took the time to nominate me,” said Stump.

Stump has been a special education teacher for 27 years. She has taught an early childhood special education course for 16 years and provided early childhood special education services to students in the preschool setting for seven years. As the district’s consultant/Child Find coordinator, Stump is the first contact for families who are looking for support for their children and supports all eight of the district’s early childhood special education classrooms by providing assistance to the teachers with student behavioral problems or creating a behavior plan.

Stump also works with BuildUp Michigan, which provides learning assistance for preschoolers and educators across the state to build resources for families to use at home. Stump is on the membership/family engagement committee for the Michigan Division for Early Childhood.

Stump said that, after someone nominated her for the honor, she had a preliminary interview with the CEC to verify that her mission in education matched up with that of the organization. She said they then conducted a formal video interview on the topic of her choice, family engagement, which premiered on the CEC website.

“They let me pick the topic and talk about what I felt was one of the most important things in education, so I chose to talk about families and family engagement in education,” said Stump. “Working in early childhood, I feel like it’s very important to a child’s success that we take parents’ concerns into account, what they would like their goals for their child to be and just kind of have that working relationship, because then they feel valued in the process.”

According to Stump, parental/family participation in her students’ education seems to “come in waves.” She said they saw a lot more families engaged last year in school activities, but it just seems to depend on the year. She said that, sometimes, they will have a family night or open house event and only three families will come for eight classrooms.  This year she said that they have seen a good turnout by ECSE families at the three school events they held this year. She said that two of those events took place after her story was featured on the CEC website. She said she doesn’t know if it is because of her story, but indeed she has seen more ECSE families participate this year than in years past.

“I feel like it is very important for families to be involved, especially at the birth to 5 level,” said Stump. “What happens is that the schools hold events and the families of those students with special needs don’t think those events include them. So we made a really strong effort this year to make sure that they realize that all the events that happen at the school are things that we want to see them at.”

Stump said the best part of being featured by the CEC was that it gave a chance for her to stress the importance of initiatives in early childhood education. She said that, generally, the majority of educational initiatives brought to the forefront are those that involve K-12 education.

“It was nice to have an early childhood person out there and being able to talk about what they find important in education,” said Stump.

According to Stump, one nice thing that came out of the pandemic is that they now know they can reach families of students virtually. She said that parents now don’t necessarily have to leave work to meet with teachers; they can simply Zoom in.  She said she spoke of that and also some of their techniques and tools for family engagement in her CEC story.

“We are incredibly honored to be able to recognize the outstanding special education teachers who work each day to make a difference for their students,” said Danielle Kovach, CEC president-elect and 100 Stories lead. “CEC was founded almost 100 years ago by a group of passionate teachers, and it is those same teacher advocates who continue to lead the way today. We are proud to showcase their professionalism, dedication and hard work in improving outcomes for students with exceptionalities.”

The CEC is the largest international professional organization dedicated to improving the success of children and youth with disabilities and/or gifts and talents, according to a press release. The organization advocates for appropriate governmental policies, setting professional standards and providing professional development to those who work in education.

Stump’s story and those of the other featured educators can be found at