Educator of the Year

In March, we recognize educators who have made a difference in the lives of school-aged members. These educators are nominated by our members each year.

Lori Tullos Barta Educator of the Year Award​

Lori Tullos Barta (1971-2010) was a shining star of light, hope, and love for people with Down syndrome in Central Texas and their families. Through her tireless efforts Lori launched numerous Educational Programs that directly benefitted the lives of individuals with Down syndrome including the DSACT Learning Program, Back to School Tools, Parents and Schools in Partnership, Inclusion Solutions and the Educator’s Manual.

She was intently focused on DSACT’s mission of including people with Down syndrome in all aspects of our community and ensuring each individual realizes his or her potential. Her energy and legacy continue to be a driving force as DSACT works to provide Programs, Resources, and Services to individuals with Down syndrome, their families, professionals, and the community.

The Lori Tullos Barta Educator of the Year Award is typically presented to a deserving person or team to celebrate World Down Syndrome Day on March 21. With this award, DSACT offers members the opportunity to recognize the person or team that has had an undeniable impact on your child and provided support to you. Nominees are those educators who go beyond expectations and stand out above the crowd. After reading through all the nominations, DSACT’s committee selects a truly deserving person. All educators, including teachers, paraeducators, therapists, and principals can be nominated. You can also nominate teams if you prefer.

This award gives DSACT members the opportunity to say “thank you” to outstanding educators. DSACT notifies all nominees and their principals of your, and our, appreciation for their outstanding contributions to students. Let’s recognize those outstanding individuals.

2024 Lori Tullos Barta Educator of the Year

2024 Educator of the Year - Lauren McDowell, River Place Elementary

Mrs. Lauren McDowell was selected as the recipient for the 2024 Lori Tullos Barta Educator of the Year Award for her unwavering dedication to fostering inclusion and her tireless efforts in creating an environment where every student feels valued, respected, and supported.  She exemplifies the true essence of an outstanding educator. She was nominated by The McCormick Family for her support of their son at River Place Elementary. 

The McCormick Family stated that Mrs. McDowell is extremely dedicated to her students and a constant learner. She is always creating tools to help her students visually in the general education setting alongside his peers. Every time I’ve suggested a training program, webinar, book or resource she jumps at the opportunity to learn more.  She shares methods she learns with general education teachers. Additionally, she advocated for co-teaching within RiverPlace elementary, which has started this year!

I’m not sure how she does it all. We all worry about our kids, but knowing that Mrs. McDowell is working towards the best outcomes for him eases our worries everyday. We are so grateful for her!

Congratulations Lauren on this well-deserved award!!

Other 2024 Educator Award nominees were: Joanna Wordell (Timmerman Elementary), Suzanne Hoelzel (Kiker Elementary), Amie Gonzales (Lockhart Junior High), Monica Johnson (Bar W Elementary), Maria Brown (Sunfield Elementary), Joy Eickhoff (Westlake High), Yessica Almanza & Aurora Garcia (Goodwater Montessori School), and The ACC Team; Audrea Ross, Vanessa Rosillo-Simon, Sarah Apple, Abby Adams, Yolanda Sanchez (Rooster Springs Elementary.)