By Jennifer Jimenez
Dysart Unified School District Academic Interventionist Karin York received a recent nomination for the 2018-19 LifeChanger of the Year award.
The national award is sponsored by the National Life Group Foundation and recognizes the best K-12 educators and school district employees across the U.S. who are making a difference in the lives of students by exemplifying excellence, positive influence and leadership. To be considered as a nominee for the award, the teacher must make a positive impact in the lives of students, enhance their school or district’s atmosphere, culture and pride, demonstrate exemplary leadership, possess a proven record of professional experience, show commitment to building a nurturing environment that supports learning and adhere to the highest moral and ethical standards.
Ms. York said she was humbled to be nominated by her husband and she feels blessed to have the opportunities to work in different realms as a teacher, coach and youth leader, as well as a Special Olympics coach.
“I wake up every morning and I pray and ask God to help me to be a blessing somewhere,” Ms. York said. “I’ve had a lot of adversity in my life and chosen never to be a victim but to use every situation to learn and grow and be a blessing. Every way I turn there is an opportunity.”
Ms. York said her primary motivation is her 28-year-old son, who has Down Syndrome. She said he has completely changed her life and continues to change the lives of everyone that encounters him.
“It’s crazy, because I model my life after him. He is joyful and he is a servant leader and it’s just incredible how he moves people. And that’s why I went into special education and why I have worked with so many youth well into their adulthood,” Ms. York said. “He was definitely given to me for a reason and I am thankful for the way our society has moved in the right direction with special needs population and people with disabilities.”
One of the biggest challenges Ms. York has faced in her career was getting unified sports going at Valley Vista High School, she said.
“The program and grown and developed and it infected our whole school in such a positive way,” Ms. York explained.
She said the special needs students are well-loved and supported throughout the community and a lot of that did truly begin with her searching for new challenges and experiences for her son.
“The outcomes that I have been able to witness have truly changed lives – through Special Olympics, through my school, as an educator and through Young Life. That can carry me a lifetime,” Ms. York said.