Our best wishes to Delrey School Principal, Mimi Wang, who retired at the end of June. She joined the Delrey School as a teacher in 1971, when a majority of the students had cerebral palsy. “Delrey was one of the first institutions to work with these populations,” says Mimi. “I was impressed with the progress Delrey was making and attracted to its small school environment.” Mimi was soon promoted to director of education and then in 1984, to principal.
During her 45-year tenure, Delrey evolved to serve some of the most challenging physically disabled populations. “Our children have complex needs,” says Mimi. “Every therapist and teacher has a key to open the child’s door. I encourage my staff to work together to produce a master key,” she explains. Through her leadership, Delrey staff have consistently sought out the latest mobility devices and equipment and employed the most precise teaching strategies and communication approaches. “Mimi has cultivated a talented group of professionals, and they are working miracles every day,” says President and CEO of Unified Community Connections Diane Coughlin.
“Mimi has been a mentor and an inspiration to those of us who have had the distinct pleasure and good fortune to work with her,” says Ms. Coughlin. Mimi has earned tremendous loyalty and respect from her colleagues – contributing to the longevity of the staff at Delrey, many of whom have worked under her their entire professional careers. “Mimi has always been so supportive of the staff,” says Sharon Conjar, senior physical therapist and a Delrey employee of 33 years. “She knew we couldn’t focus on our work if we were worried about our children, so she started a daycare at Delrey.” Dorothy Lemon-Thompson, social work administrator and Delrey employee for 38 years adds, “Mimi was the first to start reverse inclusion and later, other programs copied us.” It was a wonderful experience for all of the children and typical of Mimi’s open and welcoming personality. “She is one of the warmest people I’ve ever met,” says former Delrey parent, Ali Clark. “She made this little school feel like the Four Seasons.”
Self-effacing in seeking recognition for her accomplishments, Mimi admits she is proud of her ability to maintain Delrey’s high quality of services in a climate of ever-changing and challenging federal legislation. “Our children are a silent minority,” says Mimi. “Their needs are so often ignored and neglected by the public.” Her life’s work has been educating children with disabilities through tireless advocacy and compassion.
“Mimi has successfully forged working relationships with the community and partner organizations that benefit Delrey and the children at Delrey,” says Ms. Lemon-Thompson. Mimi has served on the board of the Maryland Association of Nonpublic Special Education Facilities (MANSEF) and PROJECT ACT and participated in countless committees for the benefit of children with disabilities. “She has been fearless when it comes to the Delrey program. If you can do something for her students, even if you are the president of the United States, she will approach you. Getting students the services they need has always been Mimi’s first priority, and she knows how to get it done,” says Penny Lynch, chairman of the board of directors, Unified Community Connections.
Congratulations to Mimi for an exceptional career at Delrey. Her legacy lives on in the hundreds of children who have benefitted from the Delrey School and as a result, now lead fulfilling lives.