Educator Awarded for Supporting Employment for Individuals with Disabilities
(Ripley, WV) -- Mrs. Lora Sturm, former Special Education Coordinator for Jackson County Schools, recently received the Distinguished Service award from the WVADE. By definition, the award recognizes exemplary service provided by a citizen as a volunteer helping people with disabilities. Boyce Brother’s Antiques, run by Eric and Jesse Boyce, achieved the Entrepreneurship award given to an entrepreneur with a disability who has displayed skills, leadership and initiative necessary to successfully own and operate a for profit business in the private sector. Jackson County Developmental Center (JCDC) nominated both Mrs. Sturm and the Boyce Brothers to acknowledge their remarkable efforts to support progress for individuals with disabilities through employment.
Mrs. Sturm started the collaboration between the Jackson County Schools, WV Division of Rehabilitation Services and Jackson County Developmental Center to implement a Job Fair for students with disabilities to explore their options post-graduation. The first job fair was held at Cedar Lakes in Ripley, WV for Jackson County students with special needs in 2008. The number of students served has grown to include Roane County Students and the name of the event has changed to: Jackson & Roane County Students with Disabilities Transition and Job Resources Event.
As a result of the Jackson county event, an annual regional event is held in Parkersburg for eight high schools each spring, and Mason County is holding their first event in March 2017. While each event addresses the transition of students with special needs in a different way, the start of these events came from the determination and persistence of Mrs. Lora Sturm. Her contribution to students with disabilities reaches more than 300 students annually.
Federal Regulations have updated over the last couple years requiring a more involved approach to employment and post-secondary options for students with disabilities. Mrs. Sturm had the foresight to begin this innovative event years prior to the regulation changes.