Penny Helfrich and Jamie Otter consistently go above and beyond to provide services for their students.

One example is the care they take in creating fun and engaging lessons for a young home-bound student with disabilities who they each meet with virtually once a week.

"It’s important to make sure you pick activities your students enjoy," said Penny, who has been an occupational therapist for 38 years. “In this case, our student loves animals so I always choose an animal to use in our lessons. She’s a hard-worker anyway – and this keeps her extra engaged.”

Jamie has been a social worker six years, the last three at Saginaw ISD. 

She helps students with their social skills, understanding their emotions, behavioral issues, working through trauma, and problem solving.

"Depending on the needs of the student, we work on a specific goal,” she said. "I want to provide guidance with a focus and not overwhelm them.”

Amanda Smith, a special education supervisor at Saginaw ISD, is impressed by the steady impact Penny and Jamie have on their students.

"Penny and Jamie are creative and flexible," Amanda said. "Their lessons spark learning – and their students acquire skills in a way that help them make meaningful progress."

Ms. Otter and Ms. Helfrich are just two of the over 370 individuals at the Saginaw ISD who support students with special needs in our local school districts across Saginaw County.