Alumna Sherry Elander ‘03 was recently selected as a recipient of the prestigious William Pynchon Medal for public service. Elander is a transition specialist with the Special Education Department at Westfield High School.
The Pynchon Medal is named in honor of the founder of Springfield and has been bestowed each year since 1915. It recognizes Western Massachusetts residents who have made distinguished civic service. It is the oldest public-service award in Western Massachusetts and has been bestowed on just over 200 people since its creation.
Elander is credited with being the architect for the Westfield schools’ transitional services program, which has become a model for other districts statewide. Her extensive network in the community has helped create internship opportunities for the students in the program. In addition, she helped form partnerships through the Massachusetts Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Initiative with Holyoke Community College and Westfield State. This allows students to attend college while still receiving special education services that were available to them in high school.
“We were able to show that college and careers are possible for all students, not just for the academically gifted,” she said. “We all have a right to dream.”