Educator Honored for Her Efforts on Behalf of Those with Disabilities

Jan Weiner Receives Memorial Scholarship Award

February 12, 2007

By Debra Cano Ramos

Because of her passion, dedication and research to fully include individuals with moderate and severe disabilities in all aspects of society, Jan Weiner has been given a distinguished honor by her peers.

Weiner, associate professor of special education, was presented with the Robert Gaylord-Ross Memorial Scholarship Award Feb. 3 at the 25th annual Cal-TASH conference in Manhattan Beach.

Cal-TASH is the California chapter of TASH, an international membership organization leading the way to inclusive communities through research, education and advocacy. There are more than 25 chapters worldwide with thousands of members from more than 30 countries.

“This award is a great honor,” said Weiner, a member of Cal State Fullerton’s faculty for 15 years. “It’s recognition by my colleagues and peers that they value my work and that I’ve established myself as a leader in this very small field.”

The award is in memory of the late Robert Gaylord-Ross, a professor of special education at Vanderbilt University committed to the idea of integrating people with or without disabilities.

“It is given to an outstanding scholar in the area of services and support for individuals with severe disabilities,” said June Downing, a Cal-TASH executive board member and a past president.

“Jan Weiner is being recognized by our state chapter due to her commitment to the field of individuals having moderate-severe disabilities and to her belief that all individuals, regardless of ability or disability, can and should learn together,” added Downing, professor of special education at Cal State Northridge.

Belinda Karge, CSUF professor of special education, said Weiner, whom she has worked with for more than a decade, is deserving of the honor. “She has spent many hours in the field — in our case, this is the public school classroom — working to support children with disabilities,” Karge said.

“The type of research she conducts takes time and access to classrooms. She is a stellar researcher and wonderful colleague.”

An estimated 10 percent of the U.S. population has disabilities, Weiner said, adding that of these individuals, about 1 percent have severe disabilities.

“These are people who have a lot of needs and are challenged with multiple disabilities,” she said.

More than 30 years ago, Weiner landed her first job teaching children with disabilities at a private residential school in Massachusetts. She came to Southern California in 1980 for a vacation and decided to stay, later getting a job as a special education teacher at a Riverside County elementary school.

While working for the Riverside County School District, she first learned about integration practices, now called inclusion. “I then started a crusade to have children with disabilities go to school with children who don’t have disabilities by providing them with the support they need to be successful academically and socially.”

Weiner also has taught at the University of California, Santa Barbara and State University of New York. She holds an undergraduate degree in psychology, master’s degrees in special education and education administration and earned her doctorate at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1992.

Weiner, who is program coordinator for the Moderate/Severe Specialist credential, joined Cal State Fullerton when the Special Education Department had only four faculty members, she recalled. Today, the department has 11 full-time faculty.

Through her work and research, Weiner continues to develop service delivery models, curriculum and best practices to improve social obstacles often faced by people with disabilities.

“What I try to do is work to make sure these individuals are included in mainstream society and are seen as integral, contributing members to society,” she said.

Back to Top