ACCEL Honors Employees with First-Ever Leading with the Why Distinguished Service Award

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ACCEL, a private, nonprofit school for children with special needs has honored a team in its organization with the first-ever “Leading with the Why” Distinguished Service Award for best promoting its vision of providing a life of dignity and self-worth.


Honorees include Christine Johnson, teacher; Chelse Conway, paraprofessional; Julius Canderelia, paraprofessional; Jonie Thompson, paraprofessional; Edward Neal, paraprofessional and Dr. Don Stenhoff, director of Behavior Services.


“This specific team continues to work in a collaborative fashion despite facing unique obstacles,” said Connie Laird, executive director. “The staff celebrates the strengths of each other and connects questions to the implementation our core values, specifically dignity, for the betterment of the students.”


The winning team was selected based on what the person, and/or team did to give ACCEL’s students, adult clients and/or their families a better life as well as if they have promoted ACCEL’s vision of a life of dignity and self-worth.


“With this being the first-ever award, this team has really set the tone for what we’re looking for from our staff,” said Laird. “They have immensely demonstrated teamwork, genuine concern for providing the best supervision for the students and an understanding of what ACCEL stands for, and that is to better the lives of those we serve.”



ACCEL is a private, nonprofit school for children with special needs, ages 5-22, and adults 18 and over and is recognized as a leader in the field of Special Education and Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). ACCEL provides innovative, individualized and comprehensive educational, therapeutic, vocational, behavioral, life skills and transitional services to individuals with a wide range of abilities and challenges including autism, intellectual, emotional, physical disabilities and health impairments. ACCEL operates a variety of enterprise programs including ACCEL Adult Services, The BISTA Center and Gifted Hands Boutique. For more information, please visit

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