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A Legacy of Special Education and a Fund to Support Teachers’ Professional Development

Special thanks to Dr. Tanice Knopp for sharing this biographical information about the incredible educational contributions of Dr. Barbara T. Chadsey. Chadsey passed in February 2021 after a lifetime of service and commitment to helping teachers, supporting students in special education, and local/statewide leadership.

The Dr. Barbara T. Chadsey Education Fund for Teachers of Manatee Community Foundation is an endowed fund that will support teachers’ professional development. Chadsey was recognized by the School Board of Manatee County earlier this month.

Dr. Barbara T. Chadsey taught taught elementary education and then Exceptional Student Education (ESE) at various district elementary and middle schools for 10 years . During her teaching tenure, she also served as president of the Manatee Education Association (MEA).

Barbara had a long history of creative programming for students with disabilities. She was always looking for opportunities for community-based learning and instruction for those students with disabilities who typically were not permitted in community settings due to behavioral issues. Barbara created and supervised many programs for ESE students that included multiple integrated curricular areas, social skills, decision-making, and vocational education in collaboration with community businesses including Blake Hospital, Manatee County Department of Parks and Recreation, and Art League of Manatee County. She developed and served as case manager for a number of cooperative agreements on behalf of the district with multiple community agencies including the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, Manatee Memorial Hospital, and Manasota Industry Council.

Dr. Chadsey was a respected representative of the school district through her service on a number of organizations in Manatee County, regionally, and at the state level including Manatee County Children’s Services Advisory Board, President of the State of Florida Council for Children with Behavioral Disorders, Manatee Glens Community Mental Health Center Board of Directors, and many others.

Dr. Chadsey helped to design and implement a collaborative program between the district and USF: the Transdisciplinary Integrated Education Program that brought special education teachers, general education teachers, OTs, SLPs, guidance counselors, and others together in weekly teams to plan across disciplines for students.

She was an instructor in teacher preparation programs for  Nova Southeastern University and the University of South Florida, a role that extended her strong belief in ESE teacher professional development and support. Barbara always encouraged her teacher colleagues and then the teachers she supervised to attend conferences, take courses, and participate in professional development opportunities.

Her focus on helping teachers extended into her retirement when she established a fund at the Manatee Community Foundation—The Dr. Barbara T. Chadsey Education Fund for Teachers—to provide financial support for teachers to attend professional development opportunities.