BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - A Berkeley Heights Public Schools administrator was officially honored by the New Jersey Coalition for Inclusive Education (NJCIE) on June 29 for her outstanding leadership in inclusive education.

Michele Gardner, the district’s director of special education, was recognized by the organization for her leadership and continuous efforts to sustain an inclusive learning environment for all students—especially those with disabilities—throughout the district.

“Michele is one of the foremost experts on special education in the state and is beloved by the staff, administration and parents within Berkeley Heights,” said NJCIE President and CEO Fred Buglione. “She is held in extremely high regard throughout the larger education community across the state and has led Berkeley Heights toward more inclusive practices while improving the quality of education for all students. We are lucky to have special education directors like Michele leading school districts in New Jersey.”

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Gardner has advocated for dozens of students with disabilities to be included in the general education classroom with their peers. She works with the organization to amplify the importance of inclusive education through professional development and discussions as well as implement a districtwide full-day co-teaching model for kindergarten through fifth grade.

Gardner has also presented locally and nationally on her district’s transformation as well as the benefits of inclusive education.

NJCIE has honored the efforts of educators and educational teams who promote or sustain effective inclusive practices in schools for the past five years.

Learn more about Gardner’s work and the impact it has made on her district here.

About the New Jersey Coalition for Inclusive Education

The New Jersey Coalition for Inclusive Education (NJCIE) is a federally designated 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization serving the parents and educators in the state of New Jersey. Established in 1989 by professionals and parents, the organization supports schools in creating inclusive classroom environments for children with learning disabilities. Since its inception, NJCIE has provided services to nearly 400 school districts in New Jersey; 75 charter, private and parochial schools; and a variety of other educational organizations.

NJCIE is the only nonprofit organization in New Jersey with the sole focus on inclusion and provides needed expertise to schools and educators on how to include students with disabilities into school communities and classrooms with dignity and equality. The organization works to ensure children with disabilities and learning differences are welcomed as classmates, valued as learners and empowered to succeed. For more information, visit  

NJCIE is dedicated to the development of inclusive schools and educational opportunities for all students through:

  • Facilitating positive and supportive relationships

  • Enhancing institutional capacity to fully and effectively provide inclusive education

  • Providing training and resources for family members and communities

  • Providing professional training and technical assistance