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Dina Duffy Receives the 2016/17 Josephine J. Decima Award for Excellence in the Field of Special Education

by Comm Contractor | Jan 23, 2017

The Capital Area Intermediate Unit is proud to announce that Dina Duffy, a speech language clinician at the CAIU, has won the 2016/17 Decima Award. The award was established to honor the life of the late Josephine Decima, a former CAIU educator, who helped pioneer the field of special education in central Pennsylvania. Duffy was nominated by her peers and a parent and named as this year's winner by a panel of experts in the field of special education. She was presented with the award at CAIU’s annual All Staff Day on January 13.

Duffy’s career path, as so many do, started in one place and landed somewhere completely different. “I started out in school wanting to be a lawyer,” said Duffy. “My mother sent me a US News and World Report and told me the top three upcoming fields were speech therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy, so I should pick one.” Duffy heeded the advice, chose speech therapy, and earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Bloomsburg University. She interned with the CAIU and was offered a job in 1994.

“The most gratifying thing about working in early intervention is being one of the first people to give children a way to communicate,” said Duffy. “More than that, it's seeing the look on a parent's face when their child communicates with them in some way, and sometimes for the first time.”

Dina Duffy, Decima Award winner

Pictured from left to right is Claudia and Dean Decima, daughter-in-law and son of Josephine Decima; Dina Duffy, this year’s award winner; and Alicia McDonald, CAIU director of student services.

About Josephine Decima

During her nearly 40 year career in teaching, Josephine J. Decima was a pioneer in the field of special education in central Pennsylvania. She believed that students with special needs were entitled to a strong academic program supplemented by life-skills training. She fought tirelessly to improve instructional programs and experiences for children with physical and mental challenges. Decima was a lifelong advocate for special-needs children, and an inspirational role model for teachers.

The CAIU proudly established the Josephine J. Decima Award in 2010 to recognize and honor teachers who exemplify her outstanding work on behalf of students with special needs.