MEO Director Plans To Step Back, But Not Out
Marian Educational Outreach, formerly Marian Day School, has been in existence for more than 50 years; and director Beverly Williamson has been a part of it for 22 of those years.
“I started at Marian Day School, located at St. Theresa in 1996, in a part-time position, so I have now gone full circle,” said Williamson, referring to her plan to step back as director of MEO and move once again to a part-time role in the fall of 2018.
“I am looking forward to more leisure time,” she said. “Since all my kids are out of town, more traveling in my life sounds appealing.”
In 1996, Marian Day School consisted of two self-contained classrooms at St. Theresa School in Evansville, with two teachers serving 15 students with mild to moderate learning disabilities. In 2006, Marian Educational Outreach (MEO) was providing direct services to 43 students with special needs from throughout the Diocese at St. Theresa Catholic School. MEO employed three special education teachers, two teaching assistants, one office assistant, and a Director - Williamson. The enrollment was over capacity, and there were students on a waiting list.
In the fall of 2006, the Catholic students formally enrolled in MEO integrated successfully into six parish schools. Today, MEO is a funding organization designed to assist the 26 schools in the Diocese to provide professional development for teachers and to develop programming to more effectively serve the ever-increasing student population with diverse learning needs.
“I am most proud of bringing more awareness to the importance of providing Differentiated Instruction (DI) for all students, regardless of abilities,” Williamson said. “Several years ago, through a grant from Welborn Baptist Foundation, Marian Educational Outreach was able to provide training to teachers in 16 schools and really made DI one of the favored teaching strategies in the Diocese.”
Williamson is also proud of the success of the MEO Tri-State Idol program, an annual gala and fundraiser highlighted by a young adult talent competition.
“The talent is out there; we have just provided a venue for the young people to demonstrate their skills,” she said. “We have realized that by providing the stage and an audience for these performers, we have also provided an opportunity for them to develop stagecraft, which is a whole other set of skills. Performing for approximately 300 people and helping to support funding for students with special learning needs has proven to be a very enjoyable and positive experience for our contestants.”
Each year the MEO Tri-State Idol gala features a fund-an-item auction portion of the evening; this year’s funding exceeded expectations and will allow for a program on Evansville’s west side that is similar to the program in place at Annunciation Holy Spirit School on Evansville’s east side.
“It is quite a legacy for Marian Educational Outreach to provide the impetus and start-up funding to establish an inclusive special education program at West Side Catholic School,” Williamson said. “This could be a real blessing to many Catholic families who live on the west side of Evansville who want to keep all their children in Catholic schools.”
Williamson will miss working with the large group of parents, volunteers and children she has had the privilege of working with over the years.
“My position as Director of Marian Educational Outreach and playing a small part in advocating for students who learn differently has been a major part of my life,” she said. “I wish more people knew that MEO is an organization that supports students with special needs and supports families who want to keep all their children, including those who learn differently, in Catholic schools. Our new tagline, Belong. Learn. Succeed. is designed to reflect that message.”