Illinois Subdivision of the Division for Early Childhood of the Council for Exceptional Children


Jeanette A. McCollum Award for Service to the Field
2013 Awardee

Lynette K. Chandler

Dr. Lynette K. Chandler, Professor and Special Education Program Coordinator, Department of Special and Early Education (SEED), Northern Illinois University (NIU), was named as the recipient of the Jeanette A. McCollum (JAM) Award for Service to the Field by the Illinois Division of Early Childhood (IDEC).  The announcement took place on Thursday, October 3rd, 2013  at the SharingAVision (SAV) early childhood conference held in Springfield, IL.   The JAM Award for Service to the Field is presented to an early childhood professional, family member, student, or community member who meets high-standards of professional practice and leadership set by Jeanette A. McCollum, Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois – Urbana/Champaign.  The recipient must have made significant contributions on a state, regional, or local level which have improved or will improve the lives of young children with special needs, their families, or those who work on their behalf.   An IDEC committee, charged with selecting the most deserving nominee for this highly prestigious award from among those nominated, chose Dr. Chandler as the 2013 award recipient.

Dr. Chandler’s nomination packet was presented to the committee by Dr. Robin Miller Young, Director of Early Childhood Education at Rockford University.  A few highlights from the eight letters supporting Dr. Chandler’s nomination are presented below.

In terms of Dr. Chandler’s work preparing new early childhood educators, Associate Dean of the NIU College of Education, Connie Fox, stated, “By serving as a role model and mentor for decades long, the number of new teachers who have been influenced by Dr. Chandler is incalculable.  But it is the teachers who continue the work that Dr. Chandler began.  It is her influence on them that betters the profession and the conditions for young learners with special needs”.    When asked about Dr. Chandler’s impact engaging and current educators in on-going professional development, LuAnn Shields, the retired principal at Prairie Children Preschool (IPSD # 204) replied, “Lynette consistently focused on what was best for children and their families.  While supporting staff with embracing new ways of thinking about teaching and learning, she was instrumental in helping staff to make connections between the strategies/interventions being implemented and the progress of students toward clearly defined outcomes.  She has the innate ability to translate concepts, program models, and state/federal regulations into quality learning experiences for young children. Lynette is passionate about encouraging teachers to maintain high expectations for children while applying solid instructional practices.”

Other letter writers attested to Dr. Chandler’s fulfillment of Dr. McCollum’s standards for professional practice and leadership.  Specifically, Dr. Toni Van Laarhoven, NIU Associate Professor wrote that she has had the pleasure of working with Dr. Chandler for more than 15 years and “ … Dr. Chandler epitomizes what it means to contribute significantly to the field.  She is one of the most collaborative and hardworking individuals with whom I have ever worked.  She is one of the most outstanding, unbelievably productive and genuine human beings I have ever met.”   Dr. Susan Fowler, former Dean of the College of Education at the University of Illinois commented, “I saw Lynette’s strong commitment and passion for improving the quality of life for young children with disabilities and have seen over the years, her ability to translate this commitment and passion to her scholarship and her service.  As a colleague of Dr. McCollum at the University of Illinois, I strongly believe that Lynette follows closely in the footsteps of Jeanette and has contributed immensely to personnel preparation, policy development and research through her work.  Illinois has been extremely fortunate in that Dr. Chandler chose to spend her career in the State.”   Donna Nylander, Principal of the Valley View Early Childhood Center (District #365U) added these insightful comments:  “Through her work at the university, state and national level, Lynette continues to be a tireless voice for young children.  In her career path she had the opportunity to implement the projects and visions of Jeannette McCollum.  Illinois is a respected state because of her vision and contributions for our youngest learners. No one has made a difference at the local, regional, state and national level like Lynette Chandler.  Illinois is blessed to have such a visionary collaborator and mentor.”

Dr. Susan Maude, a colleague with the Division for Early Childhood (DEC), echoed the previously stated sentiments, in her own words: “For more than 25 years, Dr. Chandler’s research, scholarship, and most importantly her service and leadership has had significant influences on the field of early intervention, early childhood special education, personnel preparation, and leadership in the Division for Early Childhood at both the state and national levels. Most important, her research, scholarship, and service has impacted directly how practitioners interact with and support young children with disabilities and their families in inclusive setting. Dr. Chandler is an outstanding role model for young scholars and for her colleagues. She is widely regarded scholar and mentor in our field. She has brought important recognition not only to herself but also to Northern Illinois University.”  In another letter, written jointly by colleagues Dr. Micki  Ostrosky and Dr. Amy Santos, they describe Dr. Chandler as “ . . . type of colleague who is recruited to provide service to the field because she is bright, capable, organized, pleasant to work with, and she gets things done.”  They added, “We believe that Dr. Lynette Chandler should rise to the top of those being considered for IDEC’s prestigious Jeanette McCollum Service to the Field Award. She has made significant contributions to the field of ECSE and has improved the lives of young children and their families through her research, teaching, and service. She is deserving of this recognition and the honor that this award signifies.”

Finally, these summary comments were offered by Dr. Young:  “Quite simply, Dr. Chandler has a vision of a world in which children with disabilities and their families, and children who are at-risk of developing disabilities, have their hopes and dreams come true. Dr. Chandler accomplishes this by creating dynamic partnerships among parents and families, students, practitioners, researchers, higher education faculty and other stakeholders that focus on proactive practices.  These are practices that promote attitude development, skill acquisition and application, and development of knowledge bases that achieve essential goals right out of the gate.  Additionally, her leadership creates partnership and teaming efforts to promote systemic, synergistic solutions to our most entrenched challenges and implement them with integrity.  Dr. Chandler’s leadership and advocacy work in this area is simply unparalleled.”    

To honor Dr. Chandler’s accomplishments, she was presented with an Isabel Bloom statue titled “Tiny Treasures”; the phrase paired with the statue states, “Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you may look back and find that they were the big things.”  The IDEC is extremely proud to count Dr. Lynette Chandler as one of our founding members and as the 2013 JAM award recipient.  

Return to the McCollum Award page.

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