Angie Delaney has been named as Dawson County’s 2022 Philip Wright award recipient for her hard work and commitment to serving students with special needs across the district.
The Philip Wright award is an annual award given to an educator who is making an impact on students with disabilities in the school system. The award is named after Philip Wright, an educator who created a legacy of service in the area of special education. Every year, each school district selects a recipient, and all of the winners are presented with their awards at a regional event.
The Philip Wright award recipient is selected each year by administrators and peers, and can be anyone who is involved in helping to educate special education students.
“It’s an award that honors an individual who has a strong commitment to improving the educational outcomes for students with disabilities,” Director of Exceptional Children Todd Langley said. “It doesn’t have to be a special education teacher, it can be any educator that’s improving those outcomes for students with disabilities, so it can be an administrator, it can be a regular ed teacher, administrative assistants, just anybody who has an impact on special education students.”
Delaney, who works as a program specialist for the school system, was selected by a combination of administrators, central office staff, principals, assistant principals and lead and special education teachers. She was announced as the award recipient during a recent leadership team meeting, and she said that she was not expecting to be the winner.
“I’m on the leadership team in Dawson County, and Dr. Langley had told me that someone else on the leadership team had won the award,” Delaney said, “so I was kind of standing behind her expecting him to announce it when he announced that my husband and son were there and I kind of figured it out.”
Delaney’s husband and son were able to come to the meeting for the announcement, and a photo of Delaney with a plaque announcing that she had won the award was posted on the Dawson County School System’s Facebook page. She said that, once the post was live, she heard back from a lot of people who were excited to hear the announcement.
“They posted it to Facebook and linked me, and what has been really cool is people like my brother who is serving overseas in Germany saw it and wrote ‘that’s my sister’,” Delaney said. “It’s been really nice that people who I wouldn’t call to tell ‘I got this award’ can see it and know what I do.”
Delaney has been in the special education field for about 25 years, 6 of which have been in Dawson County. She got her Master’s in Education degree prior to starting her first teaching job in Gainesville, Florida.
“I kind of had the book knowledge first — a lot of times people do it the other way around and they kind of get their feet wet and then go back for their masters, but I was going in and trying to apply a lot of the things I learned in the books,” Delaney said. “My first position was with EBD, or emotionally and behaviorally disordered, students… which was pretty extreme to be my first job.”
Since that first teaching job, Delaney has now moved out of the classroom and serves as a program specialist, assisting Langley in the Exceptional Children department. In this role, she said that her career path and knowledge she learned through positions like that challenging first job have really come back to help.
“It kind of came full circle with the behavior because I’m now the first call for administrators to assist teachers with possible strategies to use with their kids and interventions that might become more successful in the classroom,” Delaney said. “My favorite days I get to go into classrooms and assist.”
Langley said that Delaney was chosen for the award because of the hard work she does to ensure that every student can be as successful as possible.
“She just goes above and beyond,” Langley said. “She’s always there answering questions for teachers, she really gets in the boat with them, she works with kids individually even though her job is compliance a lot of the time but she’s there working with teachers, teaching kids and involved in their meetings and just supporting the entire process from beginning to end.”
Delaney said that, while she would much rather be the person giving the award than receiving it, it feels good to know that the hard work she does is making an impact on students, parents and teachers in the school system.
“All I want to do is facilitate and help people with the needs of the students that we have and the parents as well, so it’s great to know that they think I’m helping enough to be deserving of an award like this,” Delaney said. “I just take a deep breath and appreciate the love and the appreciation that people have for me; it has been nice to feel that and receive it.”
The biggest honor, she added, is receiving an award with Philip Wright’s name on it.
“He is just an inspiration to special education, so what’s really honorable is that his name has such honor with it and his name just tracks so much respect,” Delaney said.
Delaney, along with the other districts’ Philip Wright award winners, will go to a regional event in March to be presented with the official award.