Last fall, LDA Texas asked for nominations for Texas educators who work with special education or 504 students in the K-12 setting, who use promising and innovative practices in the classroom, create safe, optimistic, and inclusive learning environments for students, and who make a significant impact on the student(s). Thank you for all the nominations!
We are thrilled to recognize the following five educators for 2021-2022 who are working as a “Bright Light” with students in Texas.
Abby Cowley is the type of teacher who is always thinking “outside the box.” As a special educator, she realizes that one size DOESN’T fit all and she is willing to go above and beyond to fit students’ individual needs and learning styles.
Mrs. Cowley is a ray of sunshine and bleeds positivity. She believes in the benefit of inclusion in the general education environment and teaches other students how to be more accepting of students with disabilities.
A special educator is not only Abby’s job title, but her life goal. Abby strives for progress with her students in the academic environment, but also seeks to teach them “life skills” for life after high school. I whole-heartedly believe Abby Cowley is the epitome of a “bright light”.
Alamo Heights High School
Erika Guerrero became dually certified in Special Education and CTE, Career Preparation so she would be able to prepare all of the students working towards entering the workforce, regardless of their ability. She individualizes her lessons and instructions to the career the student is pursuing and has created multiple campus based enterprises to teach her students job skills. Students are in charge of ordering products, inventory counts, creating the product, marketing, sales, deposits, etc. This gives the students hands-on learning opportunities to develop job skills that may serve them in many different employment settings.
Mrs. Guerrero meets all of the students at their level, regardless of their learning needs, future career goals, or behavioral challenges. She finds a way to build a strong relationship with each student because she believes that building a strong relationship with each student is the key to being able to offer guidance to a student as they make decisions that impact their future.
Mrs. Guerrero enjoys mentoring new Special Education teachers and seeks out ways to collaborate with teachers across the campus and community businesses. She loves working with youth and helping them to bring their vision and dreams alive. Mrs. Guerrero not only works on creating a safe and optimistic learning environment in her classroom, but she has made it her mission to provide it across the campus for all students.
Bridge Preparatory Academy
Jacqulyn Lockett and her husband, Jeff, founded Bridge Prep Academy in 2015 to help students who learn differently. Their goal was to help their son, who graduated three years ago, and others with ADHD, dyslexia, dyscalculia, autism, and other learning differences reach their potential by creating a safe, nurturing, and caring environment where all teachers believe in the potential of their students.
Jackie, with the help of her family, has invented a new style of education. The school day at Bridge Prep includes time to be active outside which is combined with indoor PE, socializing, and doing small chores around the school. It’s professional education with a homeschool atmosphere.
Because she believes that all students can learn, Jackie tirelessly looks for methods and materials that can assist each student to reach his/her potential. She has also found teachers that share this vision and act on it on a daily basis. Jackie supports her teachers and her enthusiasm for learning and leading is contagious.
Jacqulyn Lockett is to be admired for her down to earth approach, keeping a realistic vision for the academics based on the strengths and weaknesses of each student, and for being flexible to change schedules to accommodate whatever she feels is beneficial for the student.
Erin Reid knows all kids learn differently and she truly implements different ways to help kids learn. Erin is a huge encourager! She makes a huge impact on her students because she encourages them to learn in the way they can, without drawing attention to them or making them feel different.
Erin is a strong communicator and includes kids, parents, teachers, and administrators in decisions as well as accommodation planning. Because she consistently communicates ideas, feelings, and what’s working and what’s not, all participants feel safe, optimistic, and prepared.
Erin deals with challenges everyday, but she always has a plan. She is able to provide positive and encouraging advice and does so all day, everyday, and with a smile!
Erin Reid makes a great impact and a huge difference for her students and their families.
Alamo Heights High School
Bryan Stanton is “an exceptional theatre teacher” at Alamo Heights High School. He uses his 15 years of professional theatre experience to come up with innovative ways to bring theatre to all audiences and produce theatre with all actors and technicians regardless of ability.
Mr. Stanton gives our students with disabilities the chance to take the stage and have a spotlight on them not because of their disabilities, but because of their abilities. His students have thrived in his class and other classes with advancements in mobility, verbal communication, memorization, and social skills. Mr. Stanton’s impact on his students, and our whole student body, has changed lives and given students new opportunities they would not have had prior to his class.
What is most inspiring is how Mr. Stanton has expanded the theatre community’s understanding of how to incorporate students with disabilities into their theatrical production by teaching seminars for Texas Thespians, Texas Educational Theatre Association, and the American Alliance for Theatre and Education.
Mr. Stanton is not only an excellent advocate for students with disabilities, but he is also an amazing advocate for all students.