The Presidential Award is a living testament in celebrating the accomplishments of my students with significant cognitive disabilities. This is a student population that is so passionate about learning given sufficient support and motivation. The award captured a milestone in bringing to the fore how these students are able to access the general curriculum with instructional modifications. Ultimately, the award recognizes my students who do not give up their dreams despite their life situation.

Elizabeth Lazaro Adelphi, MD | 7-12, Science, 2015

Elizabeth Lazaro has been a special education teacher at Buck Lodge Middle School from 2005–2016. She is teaching science to grades six through eight, and since 2008 has served as Science Department Chair. Elizabeth uses scaffolding and substantial modification strategies in her instruction in order for her students with varying physical and intellectual challenges to access the general education curriculum. She is likewise tasked to address the goals and objectives stated in the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) of each student. In the classroom, Elizabeth employs a variety of strategies in her daily instruction, such as pictures, visuals, manipulatives, hands-on activities, and embeds video/technology presentations to address different learning styles. Her students may not be able to read fluently, or at all, and may not be able to write their names, but they can trace the letters and point/touch the correct answer from a set of two to three choices. She exposes them to real-world situations through trips. As part of professional development, Elizabeth has attended several US Naval Academy STEM workshops and trainings, where she further hones her teaching skills with the use of project-based activities. Elizabeth earned a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine and a M.A. in special education from the University of the Philippines. She is a certified teacher in special education.