Murray O. Batten Humanitarian Award

The Murray O. Batten Humanitarian Award is named in honor of Murray O. Batten, former Director of Special Education in the Michigan Department of Education. Nominations of deserving candidates are solicited and received by the ISD/ESA Board of Directors representative. A review committee is selected to critique the nominations with emphasis on the characteristics exemplified by Mr. Batten; Leadership, Honesty, Integrity and Dedication. This prestigious award is presented annually at the December MAASE meeting. The Batten Award was first presented in 1984.

Nomination Form

An Amazing Career. . .

Following graduation from Wayne State University, Mr. Batten began his career serving as a teacher in the Detroit Public Schools. He then became a social worker in the psychological clinic and from there a teacher of emotionally disturbed children, all in the Detroit Public Schools.

He then moved to Lansing in 1960 where he joined the Michigan Department of Education as a consultant in special education. He was promoted to supervisor of federal assistance programs for persons with disabilities in 1971. In 1973, he became state director of special education, a position he held until 1981. Throughout his career, Mr. Batten was an outstanding leader in many state and national professional organizations. He was a recipient of the Marvin E. Beekman Award in 1982.

In His Honor. . .

Murray Batten had a reputation for being a kind, compassionate listener, who always sought the positive in those with whom he came in contact. After his untimely death in 1983, MAISEA decided to sponsor the Murray O. Batten Humanitarian Award.

The Award. . .

This award is given to practicing ISD/ESA special education administrators who emulate the qualities of honesty, integrity, trust, and compassion that were exemplified by Murray Batten throughout his lifetime.

This special award is dedicated at a special time of the year, which is most reflective of the ideals of this compassionate and caring man. The award will be presented at the MAASE meeting scheduled in February.


Nominations for the Murray O. Batten Award are considered by the MAASE Murray O. Batten Award Committee. This committee is formed annually and is chaired by the MAASE Board of Directors ISD/ESA Representative.

Nominations for the 2022-23 Award will be open in July 2022

2021 Murray O. Batten Humanitarian Award Winner

Jeff Reinelt

Special Education Supervisor and Transition Coordinator at Cheboygan-Otsego-Presque Isle ESD

Following is an excerpt of the presentation by Karlie Parker, Board of Directors ISD/ESA Representative:

I have the honor of introducing the 2021-22 Murray O. Batten Humanitarian Award winner. During these challenging times, it has been such a pleasure to focus on the positive impact of many of our special education colleagues. And today we celebrate the contributions of one individual.

The Murray O. Batten Award was started in 1984 in honor of Murray “Bud” Batten, a former State Director of Special Education, who devoted his entire professional career to serving students with disabilities. Murray Batten had a reputation for being a kind, compassionate listener, who always sought the positive in those with whom he came in contact. Day in and day out he demonstrated the qualities of HONESTY, INTEGRITY, TRUST and COMPASSION. Qualities that recognize “who we are” as people, not simply “what we do.” In classic Murray style, the Batten Award is linked to the personal qualities of its annual recipient, not just their professional accomplishments.

Let’s start this presentation with the following information about the personal characteristics of our winner: Our award recipient is described as a champion for children and young adults. An easy sense of humor is a quality that makes many feel comfortable with this individual, even during difficult situations. In addition, the recipient displays a “whatever it takes demeanor” that resonates across settings. The core of trust the recipient has exhibited leads students, families, leaders and staff to be confident that the best decisions will always be made when it comes to supporting children and young adults. The recipient is someone that not only said they wanted to stay connected with students when they moved into administration, but has actually done so in meaningful ways. This individual is known to be very humble and deflect any credit that comes their way….the recipient will have no such luck today as we celebrate their dedication and accomplishments.

Let’s learn a little bit about our winner’s background and involvements: This individual has supported children of all ages for 27 years, with 25 of those years being in the same county. This individual highlights the importance of staff being involved with MAASE and SLIP and makes sure to support personal and professional connections. Our recipient is key to the professional development in their county and can be seen supporting everything from CPI to transition services. This individual has been both a Grand Valley Laker and a Central Michigan Chippewa.

Let’s learn a little bit about our winner’s leadership style: Compassionate, collaborative, and dedicated are just a few words that colleagues used to describe our recipient. Being a calm, resourceful, flexible leader makes those around the individual feel like anything is possible. Inclusive is another word used to describe the leadership of this individual. Whether back in the local or here at MAASE the individual makes a point to connect with new staff and make them feel welcome. This leader provides open and honest feedback to those around them and knows when to push staff or step back and let them heal. During these times of staff shortages, the individual is known to attract talent everywhere from the local hardware store to enjoying a meal out. Not only does the recipient attract talent, but due to strong leadership skills is able to retain staff at high levels. When our recipient is working to “get everyone on the bus” they can do so figuratively and realistically as they are also responsible for 2100 square miles of bus routes.

My final clue comes from a favorite student of our recipient who has been known to tell this leader, “you are probably so happy you could crap your pants.”

Ladies and gentlemen, your 2021 Batten Award winner — Special Education Supervisor and Transition Coordinator for COP ESD, JEFF REINELT!

Past Murray O. Batten Humanitarian Award Winners

2020 David Krantz
2019 Donna Jones
2017 Beth Alberti
2016 John Bretschneider
2015 Cherie Wager
2014 Eric Hoppstock
2013 Dawn Bentley
2012 Ann Walton
2011 Laurie Jefsen
2010 Janis Weckstein

2009 Randy Schantz
2008 Sharon Melko
2007 Pamela Zandt
2006 Diane Heinzelman
2005 Greg LaMore
2004 Laurie VanderPloeg
2003 Scott Hubble
2002 Wayne Buletza
2001 Mike Contat

1999 Ruggero Dozzi
1998 Jeff Siegel
1995 George Barnes
1994 Fred Chappell
1993 Jay Leach
1992 Harry Grether
1991 Marge Joslin
1990 Tom Howard

1989 Jerry Reimann
1988 Ed Birch
1987 Gene Thurber
1986 Annlee Decent
1985 Richard Baldwin
1984 John Mader