Dr. Wanda Brownlee, principal of Washington Center, has been recognized as the South Carolina Council for Exceptional Children (SCCEC) Principal of the Year.
Since being named Washington Center principal in 2007, Dr. Brownlee has served the needs of about 130 moderate to severely disabled students, ages 3 to 21, who exhibit severe cognitive challenges and medical fragility.
Establishing a supportive learning community that recognizes and celebrates individual differences, Dr. Brownlee speaks at local and state events promoting the potential of exceptional children and youth. She recruits partnerships for nondisabled students from area schools to volunteer in classrooms as reading buddies and activity friends. Future teachers and pre-nursing students from regional colleges are invited to the Washington Center campus to gain knowledge on how to help students with disabilities lead more independent lives.
Dr. Brownlee’s passion for generating public awareness powers the “Walk & Roll,” the school’s signature fund raising event in which students, families, media, volunteers, and staff join in a journey to salute exceptionalities. These positive interactions build character among youth and highlight the uniqueness and worth of our students in society.
As a champion of student welfare, Dr. Brownlee intercedes for students who cannot speak for themselves by working with social service agencies, medical professionals, and parent support services. She was instrumental in obtaining a second location at Hollis Elementary to address the needs of our preschool population. Washington Center @ Hollis, which opened in January 2011, has become a role model as a state-of-the-art special needs instructional facility. Demonstrating master leadership, she supervises all aspects of both campuses.
Dr. Brownlee serves as an appointed principal representative for the South Carolina District 1 PTA, and is a member of SCCEC, National Association of Special Education Teachers, and Palmetto State Teachers Association.
In addition to regular classrooms, Washington Center includes a multisensory suite, art and music classrooms, a hortitherapy area with a greenhouse, a daily living classroom, and instructional kitchens. Technology is integrated through touch screen adapted computers and the use of Smart and Promethean boards. Handicapped accessible playgrounds on both campuses provide appropriate special needs recreation.