Special needs teacher helps students feel included

Lori Allan wins Brent Rast Award for outstanding service to children with special needs

TULARE COUNTY – There is no feeling out of place when Lori Allan is around.

Allan, the 2021 Brent Rast Award recipient, is currently a TCOE special services AcCEL teacher at Mt. Whitney High School (MWHS) and is well known for making everyone around her feel included.

Allan takes the time to get to know her students and their parents and understands the importance of positive relationships and communication between home and school. She is skilled at managing her classroom and making all students feel comfortable. In doing so, Allan’s students are able to integrate into the high school environment in both classes and activities.

“With Lori’s support, we have had TCOE students become members of various sports teams, cheerleading squad, and our dance team,” MWHS principal Rick Hamilton said. “The list goes on and on. For students enrolled at MWHS through TCOE, there are few limitations to what they are allowed to participate in due in large part to Lori’s work with the staff in coordinating supports and communication with families.”

Hamilton noted that Visalia Unified School District general education students participate in the vocational education PIVET program, which places students in Allan’s room to serve as tutors, mentors, and peers.

Allan began her career as a Special Education teacher for students with moderate/severe disabilities 29 years ago when she taught preschool at the Yettem Learning Center. After three years, she transitioned to a special day class at Valley Oak Middle School and was a valued staff member there for 16 years. From Valley Oak, Allan moved on to high schools and taught a very busy class at Exeter High School for seven years.

The Brent Rast Award is a memorial award named for a TCOE teacher of students with special needs who passed away over 25 years ago. The award is normally presented to an exemplary teacher at the annual Community Advisory Committee (CAC) luncheon. However, due to COVID, the luncheon was canceled and Allan was presented with the award at Mt. Whitney High School.

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