We congratulate all of our D11 teachers who were nominated and awarded as Teachers of the Year by the Colorado Springs Down Syndrome Association. Below is the story of Major, his mom and dad, and the teacher who changed their lives, Ms. Kara Anseth. Please enjoy this nomination excerpt written by Major’s dad and mom, MAJ. Evan Mize and Mrs. Necie Mize.
“Ms. Kara [Anseth] came into our lives in the autumn of 2019 as the Homebound Tutor assigned to our son, Major. She volunteered for the role despite being from another [D11] school and teaching two classes of preschoolers every day, four days a week. Because she was excited to take on the challenge of teaching our medically fragile, then 4-year-old, who happens to have Down syndrome, we were cautiously optimistic that the experience could be positive.
We were nervous and uncertain parents who were emotionally exhausted from fighting to have our son included in the general education classroom, while attending in-person the previous year. So perhaps you can imagine our trepidation as his medical needs restricted him to homebound status. And yet, this was when Ms. Kara entered, shined and changed Major’s world.
Major was emotionally scarred from negative school experiences, from the previous year, while attending in person. Yet, Ms. Kara reignited his love for learning and his faith in adults and specifically educators, single handedly. It was immediately apparent that Ms. Kara had the heart and skills to bring the full curriculum to our home and to Major with creativity and truly individualized efforts. For the 2019-2020 school year, she drove across town, every day, to our home, just for our child, after a full day of teaching two classes full of three- and four-year-olds. She never showed anything but enthusiasm to see Major and excitement to work with him. She was so confident in his ability to learn that she wasn’t fazed by his many attempts to ignore or dismiss her. She never blamed or labeled him, she just kept showing up, with full faith that he could and would learn and she was determined to crack the code of building a working relationship with Major.
Because of her consistency, confidence in Major and willingness to keep trying new and inventive approaches, she and Major were working and learning together, both wearing proud smiles, within two weeks. We have no words to express our relief at seeing our son loving to learn again. Our awe for Ms. Kara’s ability to miraculously provide the most inclusive education experience to Major while under the most segregated circumstances, homebound, can never be fully articulated. We were so thrilled with her ability to understand and connect with our son. That, coupled with the astounding academic progress he displayed under her tutelage, drove us to petition the school to allow Ms. Kara to remain as is Homebound Instructor for the 2020-2021 school year, even though she’d still be teaching preschool and he’d be moving on to kindergarten. Because of the undeniable rapport and impressive results, the school agreed and Ms. Kara was every bit as excited as we were that she and Major would work together again. In fact, we hired her to tutor Major over the summer to ensure his emerging skills and knowledge remained sharp and this proved to be a tremendous advantage to our son. While many teachers are desperate for a summer break Ms. Kara gladly shared her vacation time with Major.
The current school year, 2020-2021, has built off of the success from the previous year and summer despite Major coupling homebound status with the further segregation of online learning as a result of the ongoing pandemic. This extra barrier was not able to prevent the magic of Ms. Kara reaching Major and inspiring him to learn, work, and propel himself forward academically and developmentally. Throughout all of the upheaval, Ms. Kara faithfully logged in everyday to their one-on-one scheduled tutoring sessions and through the screen she nourished their learning relationship. Despite the added barrier, Ms. Kara has guided Major’s learning journey this school year to not only match last year’s success, but to surpass it. Major’s confidence has further increased, his love of learning is thriving and he has met four out of five of his IEP goals, exceeded most of them and has even begun to succeed in areas that were not yet written as goals. This is all in a school year that was not only hindered by the pandemic but also began with Major missing the first several weeks of school due to actually dying then being resuscitated following a complex surgery. He has had to overcome even more medical setbacks this school year than the previous year yet with Ms. Kara ever by his side, rooting him on, pushing him and showing him that he’s more than any label, he’s not only avoided academic regression but he’s excelling.”
To all of our extraordinary educators, and especially to Ms. Kara Anseth, we see you, honor you, and are grateful for the lengths you go to to positively impact the lives of our D11 children!
Pictured: (Photo 1) Major Mize, (Photo 2) Necie Mize, Kara Anseth, MAJ. Evan Mize