Suzanne Koehler and her dedication to special education

Leominster — City resident and published author Mark Bodanza says in his book Risk Takers & History Makers: The Story of Leominster: love you

Two Leominster residents, Suzanne Koehler and Joseph DeCarolis Jr., have spent their entire lives loving their community and their families.

Starburst will be held at Doyle Field on Saturday, August 27th at 4:30pm and will end with a traditional fireworks display at 9pm. Local vendors, and this year’s Citizens of the Year presentation.

Suzanne Koehler honored for her dedication to special education

Suzanne Koehler may not be a Leo Minsterite by birth, but her heart has lived here for the past 43 years. This includes raising her three children, Eric, Jenn and Sean, within these city limits.

Providing and exposing children to everything Leominster has to offer motivated her to participate in volunteer work.

Suzanne Kohler is pictured in Newport, Rhode Island with, left to right, Liam Shay, Owen Shay, Luke Shay, and Lily Shay.  (Courtesy of the Koehler Family)
Suzanne Kohler is pictured in Newport, Rhode Island with, left to right, Liam Shay, Owen Shay, Luke Shay, and Lily Shay. (Courtesy of the Koehler Family)

“This started when my youngest son, Sean, was an infant,” said Koehler. “He had health issues, so that’s when he realized the need to reach out to others and build a community base, especially without his family nearby. “

Education has always been important to Koehler, who worked full-time and attended night school to earn a bachelor’s degree in accounting. She was active when the children started school. She served as the Treasurer of her Scouting 11th Division in St. Leo Boy and through her many sporting activities, including playing for her youth in Leominster, her football and her Catholic High School in St. Bernard’s Central. I followed my daughter Jen.

“Parents of children with special needs are ill-prepared for the many challenges ahead,” she said. “I accepted the challenge and sought every opportunity to learn about the law, the services available, and the power of networking with other parents and educators.”

With the encouragement of many friends and acquaintances, Koehler ran for a seat on the Leominster School Board in 1993 when the Massachusetts Education Reform Act of 1993 called for dramatic changes in public education.

“Key provisions of the law included more equitable funding for schools, accountability for student learning, and statewide standards for students, educators, schools and school districts,” Koehler said. says Mr.

Over the next 28 years, she helped implement educational reforms in Leominster, making a difference in the lives of Leominster students, especially those with special needs.

She has become an advocate for implementing the Disability Education Act, which provides equal access to education in the least restrictive setting.

“For several years I have served as a member and chair of the MA Association of School Committees Special Education Subcommittee and have enjoyed working with school committee members statewide to promote equity, fundraising, and IDEA compliance. she said.

Koehler was subsequently awarded Life Membership honors by the association in 2019.

She also served on the CAPS Joint Committee for many years as a voting member of Leominster and was chairman of the Finance Committee. On the Leominster School Board, she held many roles, including Vice Chair of the School Board and Chair of the Finance Subcommittee, focusing on fiscal accountability to taxpayers.

“I served on the Leominster Public Library Commission for several years,” she added. “And please continue to maintain your finances and join the St. Leo School Advisory Board.”

She is currently the treasurer of Ginny’s Helping Hand, a fundraiser for Beacon of Hope, and former treasurer and president of the Leominster Lions Club.

After 32 years in the financial services industry, Koehler left Hanover Insurance Co. to start his second career as a cash accountant with his current employer, Sterilite Corp.

“But what I am most proud of is successfully raising three children as a single parent and sharing the achievements,” Koehler said.

“Eric is a captain in the U.S. Parks Police who lives with his wife David in Virginia. “Sean is active in Leominster, works in Hannaford on Lancaster Street, volunteers at Ginny’s Helping Hands, St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry, and works with Beacon of Hope and Leo I am a member of the Minster Lions Club.”

Kohler said he was very humbled to have been selected as Leominster’s 2022 Citizen.

“I value the blessings of my family and friends and their support for my participation in the community,” she said. I can’t think of a better place for

Co-Chairs of the Citizens of the Year Committee, Nancy Koski and Diane Sanabria, are responsible for choosing two worthy Leominster residents, a man and a woman, to honor at the Starburst celebration.

“Nancy and I would like to congratulate Joe and Sue for their volunteerism, dedication to our community and civic pride that make Leominster such a great city to call home. I will,” said Sanabria. “They are a great example of why this award was created.”

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