Encinitas Advocate News

Encinitas Rotary Peacemaker Award honors teacher of special needs children

The Encinitas Rotary Club has awarded its 2018 Peacemaker Award to Sue Liesegang, Teacher on Special Assignment (ToSA), a role which supports the inclusion of students with special needs within the Encinitas Union School District. The Encinitas Rotary Club Peacemaker Award annually recognizes community members who have made a significant difference in promoting tolerance, understanding, conflict resolution, and peace, either locally or globally.

“The Peacemaker Award recognizes visionaries who have persevered to realize their passion and commitment to making a better world for everyone,” said Encinitas Rotary Peace Chair Robert Blumberg. “Sue routinely steps beyond the expectations of her job to make a greater difference in the lives of students, parents and staff. She embodies the definition of a ‘Peacemaker’ in the Encinitas community.”

Among the most widely recognized programs under Liesegang’s charge is the SOAR Program (Sharing our Acceptance and Respect), which at its core is designed to support friendships among peers and students with special needs. Liesegang launched the program 11 years ago at Paul Ecke Central School, and it has since extended to all nine Encinitas Union School District schools.

This year over 550 students are involved in SOAR at local campuses, and several thousand students have participated over the years. The influence of SOAR has expanded beyond the Encinitas district. Liesegang has worked with staff from the San Dieguito Union High School District to extend the principles of SOAR to local middle and high schools, has trained other districts through workshops at The North County Consortium for Special Education and has offered guidance to several other North County school districts interested in promoting SOAR.

“We’re proud to honor Sue Liesegang for her outstanding achievements” said Jim Merrill, president of the Encinitas Rotary Club. “The SOAR Program truly promotes the core Peacemaker values of tolerance and understanding, as well as conflict resolution and peace.”

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