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Help Somebody Spotlight: Angela Harper, Northstar Academy

The Help Somebody Hall of Fame celebrates and recognizes good people doing good work in our RVA community.  We encourage our readers to nominate nonprofit staff, volunteers, board members and community members who are making a positive difference.

This month, we’re recognizing Angela Harper – an IEP/IAP Liaison at Northstar Academy.  Northstar Academy is a unique and highly successful non-profit school serving children in grades K-12. They promote educational excellence and career opportunities for students with disabilities who have academic, physical and social challenges.

Angela’s colleague (who asked to remain anonymous) nominated her, saying, “I nominated Angela because I thought she embodied the spirit of the Help Somebody Hall of Fame. She spends her days helping others. She works tirelessly to ensure both the nuts and bolts of special needs education as well as the creative magic of garnering individualized growth in her students.”

Here’s what else she had to say about Angela…..


How does Angela demonstrate the spirit of the “Help Somebody Hall of Fame?”

Here at Northstar, our students have academic, physical or social challenges. Angela works diligently to ensure our students and their families have someone to turn to when they need help. She meets with students to develop appropriate annual goals. She helps them talk through difficult problems. She encourages students to strive to be the very best version of themselves.

What really impresses me about Angela is that she has developed innovative approaches to ensure our students achieve their goals. Since our students have a wide range of disabilities, there is no one way to help students overcome their challenges. They benefit from tailored approaches.

For example, every tissue box at Northstar is decorated in conversation starter stickers because she created a game to teach one student how to have appropriate conversations. Another example is that all staff know when we go on vacations, to collect some “swag” from our hotel stay, because Angela has created a plan for another student to earn these goodies with good behavior, after she discovered he has a penchant for hotels. She has transformed her office into a cocoon full of coping strategies disguised as fun. In a prominent location, she has a photograph of another student’s pet dog, which she custom makes holiday-themed outfits, to decorate the image. This makes him smile most days, even when it is hard for him to do so.


What is the impact of Angela’s generosity?


Angela’s hard work and creativity has been instrumental in helping Northstar serve families. One parent was recently interviewed and exclaimed, “Northstar is a great new beginning for our son.” We pride ourselves on transforming lives, families and futures and we would not be able to do so without the tireless efforts of our teachers and staff.

I wish I had someone like Angela helping me through the trials and tribulations of childhood and young adulthood. I am glad that our students have Angela in their corner.


About the Help Somebody Hall of Fame

The Help Somebody Hall of Fame is a platform to express gratitude for a person in the community who acts selflessly to improve the lives of others.  We want to share these stories in hope of inspiring more people in Greater Richmond to act with generosity.  There will be random drawing from those who are honored, and two honorees will select a nonprofit of their choice to receive $1000.  Read more about how to nominate someone here.

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