River Place Elementary Special Education Teacher Lauren McDowell has been named the 2024 Lori Tullos Barta Outstanding Educator of the Year by the Down Syndrome Association of Central Texas (DSACT). She was presented with the award during River Place’s morning announcements March 21, which is also World Down Syndrome Day.

“Lauren has done an amazing job at providing outstanding service to students and working towards a shared vision in which all students, including those with Down syndrome, are accepted, valued for their uniqueness, respected for their abilities and contributions, and assured the opportunity and choice to create their own path to fulfillment and success,” DSACT Education and Outreach Manager Jami Dean said.

McDowell was nominated for the award by River Place parent Rebecca McCormick, whose son, Hyland, is one of McDowell’s students.

“Ms. McDowell respects our son and believes in his potential. She is extremely dedicated to her students and a constant learner,” McCormick said. “She is always creating tools to help our son learn in the general education setting alongside his typical peers. Ms. McDowell and our family have strong alignment on the vision for our son and she is consistently working towards the best outcomes for him.”

DSACT’s mission is to provide education, support, and resources to individuals with Down syndrome, their families, professionals, and the community while building public awareness and acceptance of the abilities of individuals with Down syndrome.