Dr. Diane Ryndak, a professor in UNC Greensboro’s Department of Specialized Education Services (SES), has been announced as the recipient of the 2022 June Downing Breakthroughs in Inclusive Education Award presented by TASH, an international leader in disability advocacy.
The honor is presented to an individual who has advanced inclusive education and equitable opportunities for students from preschool through grade 12, particularly those with significant disabilities and extensive support needs. It is given in honor of June Downing, a long-time TASH member and author who impacted numerous families, young professionals, educators, and individuals with disabilities.
Ryndak embodies the spirit of this award with her work with those with disabilities. She has been an advocate for individuals with extensive and pervasive support needs for decades. Ryndak has worked directly with families of students to battle the injustices of inequalities in schools, helping to create a more inclusive educational environment for all students. She has guided school districts to facilitate school transformation and the development of systems of support to increase the use of evidence-based, inclusive education practices and improve outcomes for all students.
She continues to prepare the next generation of special education teachers, university faculty members, and researches who will work to better the education and lives of those with special needs. Her guidance extends beyond the borders of the United States, as well. Ryndak continues to serve as a visiting lecturer, advocate, and researcher in Poland where she completed Fulbright Research regarding inclusive education. She continues to collaborate with and mentor former doctoral students who are now faculty and researchers who have returned home to Saudi Arabia to advocate for educational change, a nation where inclusive educational practices are uncommon, who returned home as advocates for change.
Ryndak has served multiple terms on the Executive Board for TASH and on editorial boards for several professional journals.
The 2022 June Downing Breakthroughs in Inclusive Education Award will be presented as part of an award ceremony on December 3, 2022, at the 2022 TASH Conference in Phoenix.