City educator lauded for special education efforts

Sandi Thorpe, executive director of special programs for Harrisonburg City Public Schools, received the 2016 Early Career Special Education Administrator Award. She is a '98 graduate of Eastern Mennonite University. (Photo by Daniel Lin/DN-R)

A Valley school administrator’s dedication to education has been recognized on the national level. On Sept. 26, Sandi Thorpe, executive director of special programs for Harrisonburg City Public Schools, received the 2016 Early Career Special Education Administrator Award.

The division announced in a press release that Thorpe received the award, which is given to those who demonstrate “the core principles of leading with your heart, being an example, and being honest, collaborative and innovative.”

Thorpe received the recognition from the Council of Administrators of Special Education at a conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The council is an international organization affiliated with the  Council for Exceptional Children.

“It was really neat,” Thorpe said Friday. “You don’t get to too many national conferences because they’re far away or they cost too much. I was thankful for the opportunity.”

The Fishersville resident graduated from Eastern Mennonite University with her bachelor’s in liberal arts in 1998. She earned her master’s in education and supervision from the University of Virginia four years later. Thorpe, 41, has 18 years of experience in education, including three serving as executive director of special programs and six years working as an assistant principal and principal at Stone Spring Elementary School.

In her current position, she directs principals and administrators in special education. Thorpe also works with a group of five people who help with various tasks. “It’s definitely not a job I do myself.”

The most rewarding part of the job is watching the students grow during their schooling and succeed after graduating.

“She is child-centered in every way,” said April Howard, executive director of psychological and student services, who has worked with Thorpe for nine years.