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Two District Teachers Honored by Down Syndrome Guild of Dallas (December, 2006)

Shannon Keller, kindergarten teacher at Curtsinger, and Kimberly Weber, special education teacher at Ogle, were honored for work they did last year at Bright Elementary by being awarded the Outstanding Educator of the Year Award for their teamwork with student Lexi Jackson.

The teachers were nominated by Kerri and Brent Jackson, who wrote moving letters describing their youngest daughter’s kindergarten experience. The parents explained that the two teachers agreed to work with Lexi at Bright, her neighborhood school where her older sister attended, though it had been suggested by other district professionals that she attend a different campus. Keller, an experienced kindergarten teacher, had never taught a Down syndrome child, but was willing to work with Lexi. Kerri Jackson noted in her nomination letter that neither teacher ever saw Lexi as a burden to their workload. “Bright Elementary stepped up to the plate. With the can do attitude I had seen daily for three years, they said, “We want Lexi.” she wrote.

Brent Jackson noted that from the first day, Mrs. Keller’s words and actions said, “Lexi, you are going to be successful.” He also noted that Ms. Weber took situations that were not being successful and figured out adjustments to make them successful. He said in his letter to the guild, “Shannon (Keller) calls her students friends. She has a true desire to see a friend succeed. Both, Shannon and Kim, not only want Lexi to succeed in the classroom, but also in a regular education environment.”

J’Lynn Anderson, principal of Curtsinger, was principal at Bright last year while these two teacher worked with Lexi. Anderson says both teachers always go above and beyond for their students.

Lexi did everything her class did last year. Keller and Weber were assisted with this by two paraprofessionals, Kathy Wallace and Elizabeth Vela, who often worked with Lexi. She went on the field trip to the Pumpkin Patch, she sat in circle time, she ate lunch with her classmates, and she performed in the end-of-the-year musical.

Keller and Weber have gone on to teach at other Frisco schools but Lexi is still at Bright, where she continues to thrive in a regular classroom still under the loving care of Bright teachers and paraprofessionals.

Kerri Jackson closed her letter to the guild with the comment, “I would love the world to see that there really are educators in our world who embrace our wonderful children.”