An elementary special education teacher from the
Seaford School District is Delaware's 2019 State Teacher of the Year.
Governor John Carney made the announcement on Tuesday, Oct. 16 at the annual banquet honoring the 20 district and charter teachers of the year at Dover Downs Hotel and Conference Center in Dover.
Dana Bowe, who teaches kindergarten through second grade for the Sussex County Orthopedic Program at
West Seaford Elementary School, now is Delaware's nominee for National Teacher of the Year, a title she hopes will allow her to share her message about all children's abilities.
One in six children in the United States has a developmental disability, ranging from speech or language impairments to intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy or autism.
"But all of these children have capabilities. Their value and worth are beyond measure. Each student has a different story, different journey, and different abilities," Bowe said.
After the Sussex Orthopedic Program moved to West Seaford Elementary School, Bowe helped start a "Spread the Word-Respect" campaign at her school, part of a national effort to discourage the use of the derogatory word "retard" and to promote acceptance, compassion, understanding, and inclusion of people with disabilities. This was important for the culture of the school, where some students had not before seen children walking in orthopedic braces, communicating with speech generated devices, or using assistive technologies, she said.
"Sometimes it is difficult to see the initial impact of an initiative. Other times, although it is not blatantly obvious, there is a quiet victory: Students holding hands walking down the hallway; a child in a wheelchair tutoring other children in class; or a regular education student asking a child to be his partner even though they can communicate only through gestures, signs, or the use of a 'talker,' " Bowe said.
Bowe said she also had the chance to witness "a big, loud victory.