The Lewisville ISD Education Foundation and the Cain Sczepanski Foundation awarded five LISD teachers on May 17, 2021 with the Cain Sczepanski Award of Excellence.
Created by Bill, Carolyn and Cara Sczepanski, the Cain Sczepanski Foundation was established in memorial to their son and brother, Cain. Cain lived for 24 years with Down syndrome and heart defects. He died on March 7, 2011, of a heart attack.
Cain spent 18 years under the guidance of dedicated LISD instructors and paraprofessionals. The Award of Excellence was created by the Cain Sczepanski Foundation in Special Education to annually recognize special educators who demonstrate classroom excellence.
Congratulations to the 2021 winners!
- AUBREY LO, Independence Elementary
- MACY WINKLE, Donald Elementary
- KELLY PRESLEY, Huffines Middle School
- JENNIFER SHAW, The Colony High School
- JULIANA WOOTTEN, Marcus High School
AUBREY LO, Independence Elementary
Before even attending elementary school herself, Aubrey Lo already knew that she was destined to be a teacher. As a young child, she would help with her aunt’s classroom and be excited about all the “exciting teacher-tasks” she could help with like passing out pencils and grading papers with sticker. In sixth grade, she had her first experience working in SPED which would open her eyes – and heart- to what teaching special education could look like.
“I was part of a program called Hope, where I would assist certain students with their assignments one-on-one in the hallway,” says Lo. “When I reflect back on this time period, I realize that I never truly understood that those students had disabilities; I just knew that they needed extra help and I wanted to be the one to provide it.”
Although this is her first year teaching in Lewisville ISD, she has already made an incredible impact on her students and their parents at Independence Elementary. One parent recalls how at the beginning of the very unconventional 2020-2021 school year, Ms. Lo did everything she could to establish a relationship with her son while they were still virtual. Lo not only indulged the string of emails to address concerns about the parent’s 6 year old son but also listened and asked questions to learn how to better communicate his needs.
“The challenges are there, but Ms. Lo sees the reason behind them, she has taken an interest in him to the point where she can pinpoint when he’s getting ill. He’s had multiple ear infections this year, that were picked up on by Ms. Lo noticing that my son’s disposition was off. She sees his patterns, and she’s learned to listen to the things he cannot say. I am thankful to Ms. Lo for her consistent, open communication. She goes beyond her role of being my son’s classroom teacher.”
MACY WINKLE, Donald Elementary
Currently in her seventh year teaching at Donald Elementary, Macy Winkle is a Communications teacher who makes it a point to celebrate every tiny victory with her students and their families. Because of her positive attitude, dedication, and caring disposition, her students are highly successful in each of their individual learning plans.
“H.O.P.E. I recently heard it explained as Having Only Positive Expectations. This struck a chord in me because the part of my job I love the most is getting to celebrate every tiny victory with my students and their families,” says Winkle. “Victories that may seem like a natural part of adolescence or insignificant to some can be monumental milestones to my students. It is important to me that each student is engaged and successful in their own way and that parents see the growth their students are making.”
Winkle goes the extra mile and works closely with her students’ General Education teachers to ensure that her students are included academically and socially and also actively seeks professional learning opportunities to improve her teaching skills. She recently became STEM certified and also recently applied to graduate school to fulfill her goal of becoming a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.
“Mrs. Winkle always ensures that her students experience success by challenging their abilities in order to encourage as much growth and development as possible,” says Dr. Michelle Wooten, Previous Donald Principal). “Her students are always treated with great dignity and respect and as a result, she has excellent rapport with them and their families.”
KELLY PRESLEY, Huffines Middle School
Kelly Pressley is a special Education teacher at Huffines Middle School who is so beloved by her students, that she is invited to all their life events, including events after graduation or even more than ten years later – her impact on their lives is that great.
Pressley like many teachers found her calling at a very young age. But it wasn’t until she began substituting in Lewisville twenty years ago that she found her place in special education.
“I have been in special education for 20 years, and I would never leave this profession. I love coming to work every day and seeing the joy my kids have and the relationships I have formed with their families. Special Education is where my heart is and always will be,” says Pressley.
Families and parents love working with Pressley and many had even researched top schools and special education teachers in the area in order to find the right fit for their children. She not only works individually with each student to reach their goals and celebrate their accomplishments, but she also recognizes their potential and pushes them to new achievements.
“Not everyone can be a Special needs Teacher. It takes someone with a special heart to want to work with a child that may not always understand what she is trying to teach them,” says one parent. “She has made a huge difference in my son’s life and I know that because of her and her team, my son will be successful when he starts high school this fall.”
JENNIFER SHAW, The Colony High School
No idea is too big for Jennifer Shaw, the Academic Vocational Life Skills Teacher at The Colony High School. She not only gives everything she can as a teacher but goes even further and searches for as many opportunities possible for her students, even when that means building those opportunities herself from the ground up.
Programs that she has implemented for her students such as Grand Ball, Sunshine and Dine, and Radiant Treasures focus on creating a real life environment for her students to receive hands on learning that teaches job skills, independence and community. Shaw is the type of one-of-a-kind teacher that parents will move their families to the area just so that their children can be in her class and learn with her.
“My daughter has been forever changed by Mrs. Shaw’s love, kindness, caring, and guidance,” says one parent. “She is not only prepared for the world with necessary life skills, academic skills, and job skills, she has also fostered a love or school and teaching that has led her to want to be a teacher’s aide upon graduation. As a family, we attribute this to her favorite teacher, Mrs. Shaw, who truly is a life changer.”
For Shaw, who first became inspired to become an educator thanks to a spirited (and intimidating) teacher she had while attending Marcus High School, being an educator means giving hope to others and showing them what they are capable of achieving. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that she is fulfilling that goal.
“My desire is for the world to see my student’s value to the community in which they live. I believe each individual holds unique characteristics which need to be developed into skills which will make them successful in the future,” says Shaw,
JULIANA WOOTEN, Marcus High School
This was Juliana Wooten’s first year teaching in LISD as the ALS teacher for Marcus High School and she hit the ground running immediately. The program, like many other school programs during this past school year, had a very rocky start and she was a key factor in turning it around.
She began building a rapport with her students and their families immediately by driving to each students home while remote learning and setting up her classroom to be the most inviting and welcome place for her students. One parent could immediately tell the difference in her child’s attitude and involvement in school.
“My daughter has mentioned things at home that she learned in Mrs. Wooten’s class. I do not remember her doing that in previous years,” says one of the student’s parents. “Mrs. Wooten has a way of making the learning fun and relatable.”
Wooten comes from a background of coaching before she transitioned into special education when an opportunity for a coaching position linked to a special education teaching job came up. She has since coached and sponsored special Olympic clubs and inclusion sports teams.
“It is my responsibility to train my students how to be independent young adults and to prepare them for life after high school,” says Wooten. “Aside from their parents, I am my student’s biggest fan and will advocate for their best interests for as long as I am able!”