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2014 Award Recipients 

Administrator of the Year

Ryan Anne Paulsen

Ms. Ryan Anne Paulsen is in her 6th year as the Principal of the Special Needs Department at the California School for the Deaf in Fremont.   Prior to becoming principal, she worked as a teacher in the Special Needs Department and also spent two years in the Peace Corps in Jordan to work with students with moderate to severe disabilities.

Ms. Paulsen holds credentials in Deaf Education, Moderate to Severe and an Administrative Credential.   She is a hands-on principal where she can be frequently seen visiting classrooms or working as a substitute for any of her own teachers when there is a need.  She also steps up to provide support and assistance in other areas on campus to support her staff and students.

Outside of work, Ryan Anne loves traveling, aviation and running. She does trail racing and run one or two 10K races each month.  She just completed her first ˝ marathon last January.

Ryan says she is fortunate to work with an amazing group of administrators at CSD. She feels she is fortunate to have such wonderful teamwork every day with the amazing group of colleagues that she works with to assure that all of the students at CSD receive the highest quality education.


Educator of the Year

Jolene Berg

Jolene has been in the field of Deaf Education for over 26 years as well as a member of CAL-ED for numerous years.  She has taught with the Kern County Superintendent of Schools since 2000. Currently she teaches a middle school/junior high school Special Day Class on a mainstream campus.
Jolene is an outstanding professional, leader, teacher, colleague and mentor. She is not only willing, but eager to share her knowledge with other teachers. She has presented innovative technology ideas at both CAL-ED conferences and at the Computer Users in Education (CUE) local and state conferences. Jolene’s passion for technology has inspired many reluctant educators to try new things in their classrooms. 

Within the classroom, Jolene is joyful, conscientious, and encouraging. She knows her students and their individual needs well. She is noted for finding the potential in each of the young individuals she works with. Jolene recognizes that the critical partner in the education of her students is the parents and family. She is active in her school’s Deaf/Hard of Hearing Parent Teacher Organization. Jolene organizes events for her Deaf/Hard of Hearing students and their families so that they can come together for support and a safe place to learn how to better communicate with their children. 

Jolene’s enthusiasm for teaching, her students, and for learning in general is contagious. Visiting her classroom for any length of time always reminds us of why we went into the teaching profession.


Educational Interpreter of the Year

Abby Kopp

Abby Kopp has been an interpreter for over 27 years.   She holds RID (CI and CT) and NAD Level III certifications.   For the past three years, she has worked in the educational setting with the San Luis Obispo County Office of Education as a mentor interpreter for other interpreters in the district and the community.  Her experience in educational interpreting ranges from preschool to graduate school. She also does freelance/community interpreting.

Abby is well respected among the community as she upholds the Interpreter's Code of Ethics in each situation she encounters.  She constantly advocates for Deaf and Hard of Hearing children to ensure they receive the services they deserve.  Abby goes beyond her assigned hours by volunteering her time to interpret during lunch and after school hours for students and staff as needed.

Abby has been married for 25 years and is an exceptional mother to Zachary (23), Jolene (19) and Tessa (14).  She enjoys camping with her family in her spare time.


Parent of the Year

Kat Lowrance

Kat Lowrance is the Executive Director of the Rowell Family Empowerment Center in Redding, California. She is also a Parent Mentor for the California Department of Education's Parent Links program. She is the treasurer of California's newly formed chapter of Hands & Voices. Last fall, Kat organized the first ever Northern California Deaf and Hard of Hearing Family Camp.
Kat has three adult children, and two grandchildren. Her younger son, Dylan, is a 27 year old chef. He is Deaf.
Raising her Deaf son, combined with the educational challenges she has faced with her other children and grandchildren, has given Kat the motivation for her life's work. She wants to empower families with children with diverse abilities so that they can make a difference in the lives of their own children. Families relate to Kat because she is a person who truly understands them. She has been in their shoes.
Kat has degrees in Child Development, Behavioral Science, and Special Education. She has education and skills. But more importantly, she has heart and passion. She has a wonderful sense of humor and she knows how to have fun.  
Kat's husband, Stan, supports her in her work. They also love to dance and go on cruises together. They have learned to find balance in their lives, and this is what makes Kat such a success.