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CEC Announces 2021 Professional Award Recipients

Line-up of CEC Professional Award plaques

Arlington, Va. ― The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) is pleased to announce the winners for its 2021 CEC Professional Awards ceremony, to be held virtually at CEC’s Learning Interactive Virtual Event (L.I.V.E.) on March 8-13, 2021.  

The awards, which are peer-nominated and awarded annually, recognize those working in the field of special education for their exemplary contributions. The five awards are: 

  • The CEC Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes an individual who has made continued and sustained contributions to the education of children and youth with exceptionalities.
  • The CEC Teacher of the Year Award honors a CEC member who currently provides direct services to students with exceptionalities and whose work exemplifies the best in special education teaching. 
  • The CEC Special Education Research Award recognizes an individual or team whose research has made significant contributions to the education of children and youth with exceptionalities. 
  • The CEC Leadership Award honors a CEC member who has made significant contributions to the Council’s programs and activities at the local, state/provincial, and national/international level over an extended period of time. 
  • The CEC Business Award recognizes a business/organization that has promoted and provided for the enhancement, awareness, and inclusion of individuals with exceptionalities to support their full participation within the community. 

The 2021 recipients are: 

  • The CEC Lifetime Achievement Award: Dr. Cynthia Okolo, Professor of Education Emeritus, Michigan State University
    Headshot of Dr. Okolo
  • The CEC Teacher of the Year Award: Srinivas Pannela, Exceptional Children’s Teacher, Halifax County Schools, North Carolina 
    Headshot of Mr. Pannela
  • The CEC Special Education Research Award: Dr. Linda Mason, Endowed Director, Kellar Institute for Human disAbilities at George Mason University 
    Headshot of Dr. Mason

The CEC Leadership and CEC Business Awards were not awarded.  

CEC warmly congratulates each of the winners and looks forward to presenting them with their 2021 CEC Professional Awards at CEC L.I.V.E. on March 8-13, 2021.  

To learn more about the recipients, ask questions, or find more information about CEC’s Professional Awards, visit our website, call 1-888-232-7733, or email  

About Us 

The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) is the leading association of educators dedicated to advancing the success of children and youth with exceptionalities through advocacy, standards, and professional development. 

Media Contact 

Kevin Jacobs 

Posted:  24 November, 2020

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