We’re Celebrating #DsTeachers this Teacher Appreciation Week


Author: Emily Denholm, ds-connex team member

During a TED Talk, educator Rita Pierson said, “Every child deserves a champion – an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be.”

In the Down syndrome community, parents are grateful for teachers like this who see the potential in children who happen to have an extra chromosome and strive to see them blossom. Over the course of 4 weeks, we invited parents of children with Down syndrome to nominate a teacher, mentor or therapist who has made a significant impact on their child.

This Teacher Appreciation Week, we bring you the words of these grateful parents who are celebrating the champions in their child’s life:

Emma has the best teacher in Mrs. Stanley “Ms. Stanley has taken such great care of our sweet 4-year-old Emma this school year. Ms. Stanley works very closely with Emma’s team of therapists and resource teacher in order to accommodate Emma. In addition, Ms. Stanley has been a crucial part of helping our family to promote awareness and acceptance of those with Down syndrome. She was a huge part of our Buddy Walk Day! Above all, we are most pleased with the LOVE and COMPASSION that our Emma has received from her “Stanley”, as she likes to call her.” – Becky Bower

“My daughter’s sign language interpreter LoriAnne Houchins Clark is making a significant impact on my daughter and everyone that interacts with my daughter! She is easy to work with and everyone loves her! Kenzie’s siblings and friends are also comfortable learning from her! She is a phenomenal educator! We are blessed to have her working on Kenzie’s team!” – Dona Holmstrom

“Shelley Laney is one of the most inspirational ladies we have ever met. She makes dreams come true and inspires others to be creative and enjoy life. Shelley is the Director of SPARK and makes special things happen for people graduating into adult life. She believes everyone is a gift – and she lives to create environments to help her students achieve their goals.” – Susan Brink

“Carol Fritz, Ms. Carol, to Joe Joe, has truly been our angel. We have spent almost 3 years with Carol, and Joe Joe’s progress has been remarkable. The quiet, little boy who hid in his cubby is now a very confident big boy with lots to say. He is like the little mayor of his school! Joe Joe loves Carol and the reason isn’t just because she is his teacher, but because she shows him kindness and love, and is a source of comfort for him; he trusts her (and so do I!) Her smile is infectious and she will always tell you “today is going to be a great day”! What more could I ask for?” – Nicolette Geloso

“My daughter’s teacher Nadia Lugo always praised Elizabeth when she learned new things. She always encouraged her to push herself, and was just as happy as the rest of us when she finally started walking! Even after my daughter aged out she still keeps in touch!” – Cheryl Ford Travis

“Alex was blessed to have Mrs. Bindel, a caring teacher who made him feel comfortable in her classroom, which certainly aided in his growth and learning last year. Not only was she a supporter in the classroom, but she also took the time to attend Alex’s dance recital and joined as a member of our Columbus Buddy Walk team.” – Jen Franklin Kearns

“Ms. Alicia is one of the best people you could ever ask for to help your child with his education. She treats Carter just like all the other kids. When I starting being a working mom again…she sent me pictures…whenever I miss his stuff. It means the world to me. She has gotten him to talk more in this one school year than I had in 5 years.” – Sadie Derton

“Terry Mckinney has been my son’s middle school track aid/coach for the past 3 years. He goes above and beyond to help him excel and encourage his passion for running. He takes pride in Paul’s accomplishments no matter how small and continues to push him to strive for bigger and better things. My son and family have benefited greatly from the time and work he has invested in my son’s life.”‬ – Judy Woodberry

In all of these quotes is a striking theme. It is not the curriculum or the type of material taught that these parents focus on as having the most impact. It’s the compassion, joy, caring, determination, kindness, and belief in doing your best these teachers show their students every single day.

This Teacher Appreciation Week, we celebrate Ms. Stanley, LoriAnne Houchins Clark, Shelley Laney, Ms. Carol, Nadia Lugo, Mrs. Bindel, Ms. Alicia, Coach Terry Mckinney and the many other #DsTeachers out there who see teaching as a life’s mission to give children with Down syndrome the best possible future.


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