Debra Castner

Job Title


Deb is passionate about special education as she is driven to enhance the quality of life for those with a disability. Her interest in special education was not innate, as life occurrences shaped her view and interaction with others. Her life journey created the individual she is today, thus inspiring her to construct environments where all ability levels are embraced. Deb is a special education teacher at Grandview Middle School in the Westonka School District.

Started at Bethel



  • Hamline University - Doctorate in Educational Leadership, 2007
  • University of Northern Iowa - Master of Arts in Education, Educational Administration and Supervision – Secondary Principal, 1986
  • University of Northern Iowa - Bachelor of Arts Elementary Education – Special Education , 1985


Dr. Castner is currently a special education teacher for Westonka Public Schools. She has taught in Iowa, Illinois, North Carolina, Louisiana and Minnesota. In 2013 she had the opportunity to teach at Palestine Ahliya University, Bethlehem, in the Palestine Territories in the first ever Special Education Master’s program.

She is a huge advocate for social-emotional learning. She believes SEL empowers students by encouraging self-regulation, problem solving and decision making skills from an early age. By nurturing social and emotional competencies, we can empower individuals to thrive academically, emotionally, and socially, while contributing to a more compassionate and empathetic society.


  • Brother Julius Winkler Adjunct Faculty Recognition Award: Acknowledgment of sustained excellence in teaching in the Schools of Graduate and Professional Programs, Saint Mary’s University
  • Grandview Teacher of the Year: Acknowledgment of the impact on student learning, both in and out of the classroom.
  • Westonka Teacher of the Year: Recognized for excellence in teaching and school leadership; creates a school and community culture of respect and success, knowledge in the field of special education and guides students of all backgrounds and abilities to achieve excellence.


  • Community Presentation: Topic: Collaboration: Home, School and Community, How to connect the resources from school and home to strengthen the community you live in – Bethlehem, Palestine

  •  Autism Conference Al-Rawdah Technical Community College: Topic: Through the eyes of a middle school student with Autism - Nablus, Palestine

  • Minnesota Autism Conference Presenter: Teaching Social Skills in the unique years of middle school – Minneapolis, MN

Certificates and Licenses

Elementary Education – Special Education K-12 Licensure: 1-6 Elementary Education, K-12 Emotionally/Behaviorally Disordered, K-12 Specific Learning Disabilities, K-12 Developmentally Cognitively Delayed

Professional Organizations, Committees, and Boards

Camp Ihduhapi Board of Directors, YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities September 2017-2021