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At the recent conference in Atlanta, LDA presented the annual Sam Kirk Educator of the Year Award to a clinical psychologist from New Jersey who has earned the respect and admiration of both colleagues and students. Steven Korner, Ph.D., from Cresskill, New Jersey has been an elementary school teacher, a college professor, a clinical psychologist, and a school district Coordinator of Special Education. He is also involved statewide spearheading an initiative with a consortium of professional organizations to revise the eligibility requirements for special education in New Jersey to reflect current science and neuropsychological practice. LDA of New Jersey stated in their support letter for Steven Korner’s nomination for this award that “… Dr. Korner is so much more than what we saw on the surface; he is truly one of the unsung heroes”.

Steven began his career as an elementary school teacher when there was no special education and knowledge of the neurocognitive bases of learning was in its infancy.  Given the “bottom five” class at a school where he was teaching, he had to utilize not only the skills he was taught, but his own creativity.  He used his avocation as a musician, to tailor instructional strategies to students who could not read or sit quietly and pay attention, but who would respond to the “hook” of using music as a vehicle to catch and sustain their interest and attention.

He has worked as a school and clinical psychologist, a university professor, director of the school psychology program at Seton Hall University and a doctoral faculty member in child-clinical psychology.  His current position as coordinator of special education, provides him with the opportunity to impact the greatest number of students, parents, and professionals by doing what he does best:  building programs, providing ongoing education and training, and tackling legislation to better serve students

Most recently Steven has worked with the New Jersey Department of Education to build a Response to the Right Intervention (RTRI) program based upon neuropsychological principles. He is offering workshops and trainings all over New Jersey to “marry” RTRI and the Patterns of Strengths and Weaknesses neurocognitive model so that all children and all teachers may be supported.

Steven’s educational philosophy “is that all children, when instructed and supported in ways that reflect an appreciation of how students who process information differently, can learn”.

The Sam Kirk Educator of the Year Award is named in honor of Dr. Samuel A. Kirk, psychologist, scholar, humanitarian and pioneer in the field of Learning Disabilities.  The recipient of the award must be an educator who has made outstanding contributions to the education of persons with Learning Disabilities.

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