Teacher Appreciation: Takeaways from #DsTeachers


Our 2nd Annual #DsTeachers contest celebrated educators who go the extra mile to give their students with Down syndrome every opportunity to succeed. We received nominations from across the country (view the album) from parents showing their admiration and gratitude for their children’s educators. As we received nominations, we were struck by four main themes we saw among the entries. Parents praised their child’s educators for being: avid supporters, strong communicators, advocates for inclusion, and individuals who “see the ability.”

Celebrating DsTeachers Photo: Mrs. Taunton & Deagan, #DsTeachers 1st prize winners

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, we’ve shared quotes below from parents in the #DsTeachers contest. They highlight how their child’s educator uses these themes every single day to open the doors of opportunity for their children. These educators are:

Avid Supporters

“The minute I saw Ms. Middaugh with Christian, I knew I had made the right decision. She has pushed Christian, loved him, and supported him from day one.” – Courtney Frost

“Ms. Harding holds Bella’s hand or Bella in general when therapy or life is just too much for her.” – Beth Fry

“From the day we walked into Ms. Katy’s daycare, we have received nothing but compassion, encouragement, and support!” – Heather O’Briskie

“Ms. Elmore came to our local Buddy Walk® along with a few other teachers and the principal of the school.” – Jennifer Toro

Strong Communicators

“I text Ms. Taunton with questions at all hours and she is always there with an answer. I feel bad doing that, but she never acts like she is off duty. She truly cares for each student and wants them all to do the very best.” – Nikki Gjerde

“Mrs. Porter listens to my concerns and works with me for Jeremiah’s well-being.” – Sandra Maldonado

“Mrs. Kibler is constantly communicating her successes to me on a daily basis. She is her biggest cheerleader, other than her mom, of course.” – Melisa Hayes

“Mrs. Guerin is innovative in the technology she uses in the classroom, like the Homeroom App, which gives me a glimpse of what’s going on in the classroom to spark conversation at home.” – Susan Magyar

“Ms. Becky communicates in a journal every day and provides feedback about what Ethan has done during the day, such as: variety of therapies, educational experiences, playtime, foods tried, and much more! She has made a huge impact on my son and we love her for that!” – Renee Wolf

“Ms. Elmore has a communication notebook, sends me text messages and speaks with me every day to let me know what is going on with my son.” – Jennifer Toro

Advocates for Inclusion

“With her support, encouragement, and enthusiasm, Alex is so proud to participate in activities alongside his typical peers. Mrs. Anderson sets a beautiful example for the school community that inclusion matters, and Alex and his peers benefit greatly as a result.” – Jen Franklin Kearns

“Ms. Katy never made Jacob or I feel like he was any different from the other children in his class. If the other classmates had to set up their cots for nap-time, so did Jacob. If the other kids had to put their lunch in the trash and clean up after eating, so did Jacob. The list goes on!” – Heather O’Briskie

“Ms. Debbie has embraced Bella by making sure that every need has been met. She’s not afraid to think outside the box and really takes the time to find unique teaching styles that work best for all children.” – The Scott Family

“Ms. Elmore ‘adopted’ a typical class, which was a very good fit for her students. They are included in plays, specials, and will be part of the school talent show.” – Jennifer Toro

Individuals who “See The Ability”

“Ms. Harvey challenges Belle to be the best she can be.” – Lola Rizer

“Ms. Taunton figures out how Deagan learns best and goes with the programs that fit each kid’s individual needs. We are all on the same page of getting Deagan as independent as possible.” – Nikki Gjerde

“I will never forget the day I was told Jacob was having a hard day walking in class, so Ms. Katy was able to rally up his classmates and they cheered him on! Laughing, smiling, and clapping my son walked without his walker for the first time!” – Heather O’Briskie

“Some may look at Abby and say she has Down syndrome so she can’t do a certain task. However, Mrs. Kibler has had Abby tweeting on Twitter, creating a Google Slide presentation, and making book connections throughout the year, and much more! She modifies work for her, yet challenges her, and expects nothing less.” – Melisa Hayes

Thank you to all the parents who participated in the #DsTeachers contest for taking a moment to recognize and appreciate the #DsTeachers in your children’s lives.


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