Lori Tullos Barta (1971-2010) was a shining star of light, hope, and love for people with Down syndrome in Central Texas and their families. Through her tireless efforts Lori launched numerous Educational Programs that directly benefitted the lives of individuals with Down syndrome including the DSACT Learning Program, Back to School Tools, Parents and Schools in Partnership, Inclusion Solutions and the Educator’s Manual. She was intently focused on DSACT’s mission of including people with Down syndrome in all aspects of our community and ensuring each individual realizes his or her potential. Her energy and legacy continue to be a driving force as DSACT works to provide Programs, Resources, and Services to individuals with Down syndrome, their families, professionals, and the community.


Lori Tullos Barta Educator of the Year Award

The Lori Tullos Barta Educator of the Year Award is presented to a deserving person or team to celebrate World Down Syndrome Day on March 21. With this award, DSACT offers members the opportunity to recognize the person or team that has had an undeniable impact on your child and provided support to you. Nominees are those educators who go beyond expectations and stand out above the crowd. After reading through all the nominations, DSACT's committee selects a truly deserving person. All educators, including teachers, paraeducators, therapists, and principals can be nominated. You can also nominate teams if you prefer. 

This is your opportunity to say “thank you” to outstanding educators. DSACT will notify all nominees and their principals of your, and our, appreciation for their outstanding contributions to students. Let’s recognize those outstanding individuals.



2018 lori tullos barta educator of the year

Ms. Carrie Carey

DSACT selected Carrie Carey for the 2018 Lori Tullos Barta Educator of the Year Award for her outstanding job of educating and supporting Presley Ross and her family at Parkside Elementary School in Leander ISD.

Carrie Carey has worked very hard in resource and in collaboration with the general education teachers to assure that Presley is challenged in all settings but is not burnt out with frustration. She provides all staff working with Presley the tools that are needed to help her achieve her best. An example of this is her recognition that with just a 10-minute mid-day break, Presley would have the ability to re-engage for the rest of the day and continue making progress. She is unwilling to accept comments from Presley like "this is too hard" or "I can't do it." Instead, she encourages Presley, rephrases what she is asking, or provides motivators to complete a task.

Ms. Ross will never forget a comment by a general education teacher last year: "I was honestly surprised at all that Presley could learn." Ms. Ross credits Ms. Carey for impressing upon teachers the need for high expectations and providing them the knowledge and tools needed to be successful.

As Presley's transition planning for 6th grade began, Ms. Carey joined the parents at the middle school for observations and for building bridges with that campus. She has provided them with information on what works and how Presley can be included in her general education classes and with peers throughout the day.

When informed of her award, Ms. Carey said: "Thank you for this honor. It really does mean a lot to me. I am blessed each day that I get to share with Presley and I have thoroughly enjoyed watching her grow over the past 3 years. I believe in what I do and at the heart of that is high expectations. Presley has always risen to the challenges that both I and our team of amazing teachers at Parkside Elementary School have put in front of her. While I am honored with this award I would not be as effective without the team that I have around me at my school. We will all miss her as she goes on to middle school next year but we have no doubt that she will conquer that too. Thanks again to both DSACT and the Ross family for recognizing me for this honor."

We are thankful and appreciative of the hard work and dedication of Carrie Carey and all teachers that support our children.


2017 Lori tullos barta educator of year

Ms. Pooja Mulgaonker

 DSACT is proud to honor Ms. Pooja Mulgaonker as the recipient of the 2017 Lori Tullos Barta Educator of the Year. Ms. Mulgaonker is helping transform the lives of students with and without Down syndrome as a teacher in a PPCD/Pre-K full inclusion class. Ms. Mulgaonker has demonstrated a profound understanding of young child growth and development, setting developmentally appropriate expectations for all of her students. She provides individualized supports to help her students achieve their goals, and has demonstrated that with love and encouragement the child can exceed what even the parents believe possible.

Over the past 15 years, Ms. Mulgaonker's has helped build a successful partnership with Circle C Child Development Center and Austin Independent School District to support a pre-k inclusion program. The love and respect Ms. Mulgaonker shares with her students have enabled her to establish positive and collaborative relationships with student's families. She is open to suggestions from the parents and empowers families by collaborating and educating them about useful resources.

Pearl has benefitted greatly from her time with Ms. Mulgaonker. Catherine Mason, Pearl’s mother, stated: “I can’t say enough regarding Ms. Pooja’s efforts to facilitate peer relationships and inclusion.”  Ms. Mulgaonker ensures Pearl is supported in her social interactions with her peers throughout the school day. This enables Pearl to build vital relationships, paramount to a child's social development.

Ms. Mulgaonker offers assistance in the summer months to help maintain the gains of the student during the school year. She has a “camp” to keep students engaged and practicing academic skills. Catherine Mason reported, the time Pearl spent with Ms. Mulgaonker over the summer was invaluable.

Ms. Mulgaonker's thoughtful service to her students and their families extends far beyond the classroom. She has hosted several families with children with Down syndrome in her home to help build new networks of support and learning.  

We are thankful and appreciative of all the hard work and dedication of Pooja Mulgaonker and all teachers that support our children with Down syndrome.

2016 Lori Tullos Barta Educator of the Year

Scarlett Calvin

Scarlett Calvin is a 5th grade teacher at the University of Texas Elementary School where her teaching philosophy is simple, “build a loving connection first and life-long learning will follow.”

Scarlett  was nominated by Sergio Martin whose son Alejandro was a student of Mrs. Calvin’s. Sergio shared with us that Scarlett has had a significant impact on Alejandro's development as a person and student. Alejandro made great strides in Scarlett's classroom in part because of her vibrant personality. She completely captured every student's attention and modified her lessons to make sure that Alejandro and his peers' needs were met. Her sense of humor and entertaining teaching style made her lessons fun and kept Alejandro engaged and learning. Socially, Scarlett set Alejandro up for success by ensuring he was held accountable for using his words and using his social skills appropriately. Her boundless energy motives him to want to do his best. There is one word for Scarlett - Leader!

Last year the 5th grade philanthropy project was the 2015 DSACT Buddy Walk. Scarlett mobilized the entire UT Elementary School community to raise funds by selling hand-crafted greeting cards created by the 5th grade students. Students raised over $1000 and charted a school bus that brought over 50 students and parents to the Buddy Walk in support of Alejandro's Buddy Walk team. 

Scarlett, Thank you for all your hard work!