Dawn Ratke, M. Ed.
After spending a decade in the classroom, Dawn moved on to become the Compliance Coordinator for one of the largest unified school districts in Arizona, leading the district to a successful monitoring and compliance review. During these two years, Dawn's primary role was to train staff in current policies and procedures in order to be compliance with IDEA (special education law). It is in this role that she conquered the intensity and complexity of the law, regulations and subsequent paperwork necessary to comply with the state and federal mandates. She now has an awareness of the often tedious amount of record-keeping and documentation necessary to keep an IEP an active yet ongoing process (rather than a once-yearly agreement) and its impact on student performance when done correctly.
The richest special education experience gleaned has come from Dawn's years as a Director of Special Education in a large, unified school district working with administrators, teachers, related service providers and parents in a collaborative effort for students. In this capacity, Dawn honed her skills in problem solving, effective communication strategies and collaboration with entire IEP teams. She acquired the ability to anticipate concerns, devise potential solutions and empathize with all points of view in the process. Dawn developed an understanding of the roles, responsibilities and requirements of the profession at every administrative level. Her strong ethics are based on the needs of the student first, while still considering the needs of the school, staff and parent. Her 11 years spent in administration have afforded her many opportunities to successfully mediate potentially conflicting situations, the ability to see the process from the perspective of all participants, and project outcomes that are beneficial to all
Public speaking and presenting to audiences of varying populations are also strengths for Dawn. She has worked for A+ Educators, speaking nationally on a variety of special education related topics. This opportunity gave her the unique ability to network with special educators and leaders in other states in an effort to enhance the work being done in Arizona with our special needs populations. She is comfortable, genuine and relatable when speaking to groups of any size. Due to her vast experiences, she is knowledgeable and versed in all areas related to students with special needs ranging from preschool through age 22, and has received countless hours of professional development throughout her years in the field.
Dawn is not only a career-driven woman; she is also the mother of two teenagers, who come with their own set of challenges. She grew up in a military family often moving nationally and internationally. This background engrained in her the true strength of family and flexibility in different situations. Dawn earned both her bachelors and masters degrees at NAU, with a Bachelors of Science in both general and special education K-12 a Masters degree in Educational Counseling with an emphasis in Human Relations. These personal and professional accomplishments have paved her way into the field of special education, and ultimately leading her to the current road of consultation, collaboration and advocacy with AZ Educational Partners.