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Three SSD Teachers Receive MRA Award

May 4, 2022 - SSD teachers Tina Miller,SSD Teachers Tina Miller, Mary Beth Merlo and Emmy Kreinberg pose for a photo at the MRA Banquet. Emmy Kreinberg, and Mary Beth Merlo are recipients of the Missouri Rehabilitation Association (MRA) award. They were nominated by Amanda McDonald, St. Luke’s Hospital disability inclusion coordinator. St. Luke’s Hospital is a Vocational Skills Program (VSP) and Community Based Vocational Instruction (CBVI) program site.  All three teachers work at different facility locations: Chesterfield campus, Emmy at Surrey Place, and Des Peres Hospital. Amanda works directly with all three teachers to organize orientations, interviews, meetings, and policy guidelines. 

“COVID-19 has thrown many obstacles in our way, including virtual teaching, ever-changing policies and procedures, and lots of uncertainty,” said McDonald. “Despite the challenges, these ladies continued to put their students at the fore-front and worked extremely hard to give all their students a positive work experience, whether it was virtual, at their respective high school, or on a St. Luke’s campus.”

Miller, Kreinberg, and Merlo were specifically recognized for their community service work. They have each made significant contributions towards meeting the needs of the community by preparing students for competitive employment, teaching them to be productive members of the community, and by showing them how to advocate for themselves and become independent thinkers, just to name a few. 

“My students truly have an amazing support system,” said Kreinberg. “ I have seen so much growth from my students during their time at the CBVI site. It's truly an amazing place for my students to learn as part of their educational experience.”

None of the teachers knew that McDonald had nominated them. They all found out on the day that the winners were announced. 

“I got a text from Amanda that said I should check my SSD email,” said Miller. “It was a wonderful surprise. I was deeply touched that Amanda had nominated me.”

Miller, Kreinberg and Merlo are humbled and honored to have received the MRA Community Service Award. They love their jobs as teachers and were officially recognized for their efforts at the MRA Awards Banquet on April 27. 

“I am extremely appreciative of the opportunity to work for SSD," said Merlo. "I am so proud of our focus on students and their needs. This focus has been unwavering and because of that, I am extremely grateful and proud to come to work each day.”