Oakland Schools’ Dawn Koger winner of state special education honor
OS consultant has dedicated 25 years to helping local families
After 25 years of serving families of children with special needs in Michigan, Oakland Schools’ Early On Coordinator and Early Childhood Consultant Dr. Dawn Koger was recognized today with the Jane Scandary Award for Excellence in Early Intervention/Early Childhood Special Education by the Michigan Division for Early Childhood (MiDEC) of the Council for Exceptional Children.
“Michigan DEC is pleased to recognize Dr. Koger for her visionary leadership for Early On, passion for serving young children and her ability to improve systems in order to enhance the quality of services for families of infants and toddlers with developmental delays and disabilities in Oakland County and throughout Michigan,” said MiDEC Past President Christy Callahan.
The Jane Scandary Award for Excellence in Early Intervention/Early Childhood Special Education is an annual award honoring an outstanding Michigan professional for contributions to the field of Early Intervention or Early Childhood Special Education or an individual who has made major and significant contributions to young children with special needs and their families in the State of Michigan.
Koger has been with Oakland Schools since 2005. As part of Oakland Schools Early Childhood unit, Koger has brought about significant changes in Early On systems operations in all 28 local school districts and has partnered with local community service agencies to coordinate Early Intervention systems for children ages birth to 3 and their families. Additionally, she worked with 12 school districts to establish systems for providing services to all Early On eligible children and their families in their service area. Koger also started the annual Oakland Schools Early On Conference which provides opportunities for local early interventionists to share and expand their skills.
Koger’s efforts are also recognized statewide. She serves as a member of the Early On Michigan Foundation and is also a member of a state committee that successfully advocated for funding for Early Intervention services in 2019. This was the first time in state history that Early On birth-to-3 services received line-item funding at the state level. Because of her participation in continued advocacy by these groups, the state legislature just passed a bill that would double state level Early On funding to $14 million for fiscal year 2022. Additionally, Koger collaborates with colleagues from across the state to engage in systems-level thinking, problem solving and strategic planning, and to bring awareness to issues pertaining to the provision of high-quality early intervention services.
“During her time with Early On Oakland, Dr. Koger has developed a strong system of high-quality early intervention services for the children and families in Oakland County,” said Special Education Supervisor for Farmington Public Schools Dr. Lydia Moore. “Across the state, she is viewed as a leader, specifically in regards to system development, contemporary approaches to early intervention, and advocacy.”
In addition to her work at Oakland Schools, 18 years ago, Koger founded a support group for children who have lost a loved one. This program is offered free of charge. In addition to providing mentoring services herself on a weekly basis, she has trained several volunteers to support this important work. While children work through their grief, they may stay in the group for as long as they feel it is needed.
“The lives of families and young children benefit greatly due to Dawn’s developing, implementing and promoting best practices and advocacy,” said Oakland Schools’ Data Compliance Specialist Darla Buchanan. “Dawn is passionate about the wellbeing of all young children across our state.”
Koger earned a Bachelor of Arts in Child Development from Central Michigan University, a Master of Social Work from Wayne State University and a Ph.D in Human Ecology from Michigan State University.