2021 Special Ambassador Award Honoree
If imitation is truly the highest form of flattery, then Harry Gunther must be beloved by students, as one student even dressed as him for Halloween.
Gunther is a member of the custodial staff at Parkway Schools’ Mason Ridge Elementary. In his time there, he has been a consistent figure with students who receive services from SSD, helping integrate them into the school environment.
Gunther has helped students develop functional skills that will be beneficial later in life by offering students with IEPs the opportunity to assist him with tasks throughout the building. Through this, he teaches students to follow directions to complete a task, to ask questions when unsure of their next step, and to develop social skills by interacting with staff and other students throughout the building. Gunther visits classrooms daily to greet students and encourages the students to participate in basic social skills including greetings, closings, and name use.
"While I believe the greatest impact has been Harry's consistent behavior demonstrating concern and support for our efforts and our kids, there special occasions when Harry volunteers to be of assistance,” said SSD paraprofessional Katelyn Towerman, who nominated Gunther.
Gunther assisted with students’ participation in the Special Olympics event at Parkway West High School, acting as a chaperone for a student and working with him throughout the day's activities. He has even facilitated Zoom meetings with classes, including reading books to students.
"Harry is a warm and caring individual who has an obvious place in his heart for children with special needs and for staff who are committed to teaching them," Towerman said. "He motivates the students and regularly checks in on them."