SOE News

Former dean Don Stedman wins Purpose Prize

Photo of Don Stedman

Don Stedman

Former School of Education Dean Don Stedman has been awarded a 2010 Purpose Prize in recognition of his work during his retirement counseling schools on the best ways to engage seriously disabled students.

The prize, which was given to 10 people from across the country and includes a $50,000 award, is awarded by the organization Civic Ventures to recognize people who have made contributions to society in their retirement.

Stedman was awarded the prize in recognition for his work in planning New Voices, a model regional service program for children with significant disabilities. New Voices works to help young people with extreme mobility and communicative disabilities get good educations in public schools.

Stedman, who has a 15-year-old grandson with autism, told Civic Ventures that some of these children have active minds, even though they cannot speak or move.

“It’s very easy for a kid to go into a classroom with someone who knows them and can assist them,” Stedman said. “The problem is coordinating the assets they need, because it’s a subject few people are willing to talk about. I want to make this subject less taboo and create a model that could be a beacon for others trying to help similar children.”

New Voices’ mostly volunteer staff counsels schools on the best strategies to engage disabled students, then helps to assess technological and teacher training needs. The organization has trained more than 50 teachers in four school districts.

Stedman has had a long career devoted to working with children with disabilities. A clinical psychologist, he participated in the design of the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development and helped conceptualize and develop the Special Olympics. In addition to serving for a decade as dean of UNC’s School of Education, he also has worked as chief pediatric psychologist at Duke University Medical Center.

The Purpose Prize, now in its fifth year, is the nation's only large-scale investment in people over 60 who are combining their passion and experience for social good. The Prize awards up to $100,000 each to 10 people in encore careers creating new ways to solve tough social problems.

The prize was created in 2005 by Civic Ventures to showcase the value of experience and disprove notions that innovation is the sole province of the young. The prize was established with funding from the John Templeton Foundation and The Atlantic Philanthropies.

More information about Stedman’s recent work may be found here.