Harbor School Staff Member of the Year 2019
Leslie DePalo has been working in the field of Special Education for the past 33 years after earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Special Education from Lynchburg College in 1977. Leslie arrived at the Harbor School in October 2000, bringing with her a unique background of experience working with children, youth and adults with special needs.
Ms. DePalo began her career in 1977 as a Special Education teacher at the Lynchburg Developmental Center, an accredited hospital and school for the disabled. In 1980 Leslie took a position with the ARC of Monmouth County and also worked as a Director of Special Recreation in Manalapan. Leslie subsequently took an assignment working at the Woodbridge State School, a residential program for the disabled, where she held positions as a Habilitation Plan Coordinator and Program Assistant. Leslie’s work at this facility included: developing individualized academic and daily living skill programs, supervising support staff and implementing in-service training through an interdisciplinary team model.
Leslie’s next career path took her to the Family Resource Associates program where she took on a position as a Developmental Therapist for a private Early Intervention program working with special needs infants/children ages birth to 3 years. From 1994 until 1999 Leslie worked in the Fair Haven Public School system as a Basic Skills, Resource, ESL and First Grade Enrichment teaching positions.
Leslie’s work as a teacher at the Harbor School is a reflection of her extensive background in supporting individuals with special needs as she shows a strength in developing and implementing instructional practices that allow students to function in a structured and routine environment with exposure to a variety of life skills which foster independence.
Leslie is a strong advocate for her students as she is always looking to tap into their potential by providing highly motivating hands on activities as she incorporates a variety of visual supports and technology to maximize student learning.
Perhaps Leslie’s greatest strength is in her ongoing support and connection to her student’s families. She always makes the extra effort to provide each family with a glimpse into their child’s school day as she will send a picture of them preparing for the bagel sale or having lunch with a friend. She shares with parents the “little” joys that their children experience during the school day as many are not able to verbally share with their families.
We are proud to nominate Ms. Leslie DePalo as our 2019 Harbor School Staff Member of the Year.
Mrs. DePalo was such a positive influence in Dominick’s life. She instilled in him the abilities of confidence and independence, and it was in her class that we learned his interest in politics! He often talks of her which confirms the familial relationship he had with her. I am forever grateful for the time he spent in her classroom.