West Chester >> Most teachers enter the education field to make a difference – and that is exactly what Westtown-Thornbury Elementary School special education teacher Lauren Gilliano does for her students. Because of her dedication, Gilliano was named the 2017 recipient of the Chester County Down Syndrome Interest Group’s (CCDSIG) Community Partner Recognition Award.
“I’m delighted that Lauren Gilliano received this award,” said Ann McKenzie, CCDSIG Board member and parent of one of Gilliano’s students. “She’s a teacher and an advocate all day, every day, taking the time to listen and get to know each student and what makes them an individual. We value the joy and passion she brings to our daughter’s school.”
Gilliano received the award at CCDSIG’s annual Family Run Day & Fun Day, which was held Oct. 8, at West Goshen Community Park. The event is the largest fundraiser for the nonprofit organization and featured a 5K run and Fun Run/Dash. This year also marked CCDSIG’s 17th annual Buddy Walk, which promotes the inclusion and awareness of people with Down syndrome.
Gilliano, a resident of Conshohocken, Montgomery County, has been a special education teacher at Westtown-Thornbury Elementary School in the West Chester Area School District for the past six years. She holds a dual certification in special education and elementary education from Millersville University and is currently pursuing her master’s degree through Neumann University.
Education runs in her family. Gilliano’s mother, Beth Johnson has been teaching special education at Penn Wood Elementary School in the West Chester Area School District for the last 18 years.
“When I was little, my mom would come home from work every day and light up as she told me stories about her students,” said Gilliano. “I could both see and feel the passion that she had for the work that she was doing with her special education students. She would tell me that we are all bound for greatness, but it takes the right person to bring it out of you. I knew one day that I too could be that person to someone. So now as a teacher, I will forever be that ‘person’ that will capture and embrace the greatness in students of all ability levels.
“I am extremely humbled to be chosen for this award, and although it has my name attached to it, it takes an army to support and foster growth in all children,” added Gilliano. “I am so lucky to work with people every day who see the potential in not just my students, but all students, so if I could, I would give a piece of this award to each and every one of my colleagues and families.”
CCDSIG is a nonprofit organization that began in 1998 and provides resources and support to local families touched by Down syndrome. To learn more, visit www.ccdsi.org.