Patricia Gilcrest-Frazier Award

Nominations of deserving candidates are solicited and received by the local district Board of Directors representative. The candidate of the award must be an approved Director of Special Education and must be employed (or function) as such in the LEA; demonstrate qualities of service, leadership, vision, and collaboration; is a leader who has implemented innovative programming which contributes to the field of special education. Including in the decision are qualities regarding organizational involvement, volunteerism and years of service. This prestigious award will be presented annually at the February MAASE meeting.

Nomination Form

2023 Patricia Gilcrest-Frazier Award Winner

Shailee Patel

Director of Special Education at Novi Community School District

This annual award recognizes the outstanding service and leadership in the role of a local district special education director. The candidate of this award must be an approved Director of Special Education, and must be employed or function as such in a local district. The candidate must have a track record of implementing innovative programming which contributes to the field of special education. Criteria for this award also includes organizational involvement, volunteerism, and years of service.

The candidate for the Patricia Gilcrest-Frazier award must demonstrate qualities in five domains, which are service, leadership, vision, collaboration, and lifelong learning. I will now describe this year’s winner in each of these five domains.

The 2023 presentation delivered by Sue Toth:

In preparation for announcing this award, I reflected on the criteria requirements.  I also researched a little more about Mrs. Gilcrest-Frasier.  Those who knew her describe her as being driven and unstoppable.  She was no nonsense and an extremely well dressed woman.  

In her honor and in the spirit her memory we annually recognize the outstanding service and leadership of a local district director of special education. 

I will now describe this year’s winner-the individual selected for being the 2023 recipient of the Patricia Gilcrest-Frazier award. 

Our 2023 recipient has multiple degrees:  Ed.S, Educational Leadership and Administration, a Master of Arts, two Bachelors degrees, and have currently completed the Certified Human Resources Specialist, CHRS at Michigan State University.  This Director of Special Education has been in their current position for over ten years.  Prior to being a district level administrator, this individual served as a special education supervisor, building assistant principal and a special education teacher. 

Our recipient is an active service member in a multitude of organizations:  Their local Parent Advisory Committee, the 94d Optimize Task Force member,  Supporter of Sensory Friendly Community Events, contributor to the film:  “Chromosomally Enhanced:  What’s Your SuperPower?”, and Co-organizer of the Miss Amazing pageant.  This individual has been a MAASE member since 2019 and is currently serving as MAASE Delegate serving on Michigan’s Special Education Advisory Committee and the MAASE Leadership Committee. 

In their position as Director of Special Education, this person works closely and collaboratively with parents and students, as well as community organizations leaders. What stands out about this individuals is HER willingness to put in the time and HER ability to solve problems. 

SHE is a fierce advocate for individuals with disabilities and SHE has a passionate commitment to supporting Women in Leadership.  SHE is creative and bold as evidenced by her determination to advance the opportunities for her students through Peer to Peer mentoring and Unified sports.  SHE has helped to establish several initiatives including district therapy dogs, sensory classrooms and adequate handicapped parking on all district campuses. 

What sets this individual apart is HER exceptional vision and leadership skills.  SHE is a systems person who has a procedure for every aspect of special education.  Our recipient has demonstrated vision and leadership in how SHE works to advance the opportunities for students with special needs.  Imagine the vision that is required to see a trailer - yes - a 16+ foot long trailer being converted into a food truck.  This individual envisioned the food truck, SHE did her research, found the trailer AND sponsors willing to purchase it.  She had the trailer painted and outfitted in order to provide a Mobile Market allowing adult students a authentic environment to learn vocational skills and gain valuable work experience.  ALL this was done in about 2 months time.  

Now, you can see that we have a very special individual in our presence.  She is INSPIRING, SMART, UNSTOPPABLE in addition to the other qualities that encapsulates the Patricia Gilcrest-Frazier award.  It is my expressed delight to announce the 2023 Patricia Gilcrest- Frazier award recipient, Shaliee Patel from Novi Community Schools. 

Past Patricia Gilcrest-Frazier Award Winners

2019 Jennifer Taiariol
2018 Marci Moloney
2017 Deborah Koepke
2015 Dan Heitzman
2014 Wayne Abbott
2013 Sue Pearson
2012 Dr. Michele Harmala
2009 Patricia Gilcrest-Frazier
2006 Donna Tinberg
2004 Anthony Thaxton, Ph.D.
2003 Cynthia Smith, Ph.D.