RIO GRANDE – University of Rio Grande Bunce School of Education Chair Diane Downard was presented the Regional Award for the Outstanding Middle Level Program at the Ohio Mid-Level Association (OMLA) Conference in Cincinnati recently.
Downard said she is thankful for the award and opportunities she and her students have to work with the organization.
“I was very excited to learn I would be receiving this award,” Downard said. “This is really an honor and a statement to the hard work my students have put in this year to promote middle-level education.”
The OMLA is an organization dedicated to promoting the needs of young adolescent students and their educators. OMLA Southeast Regional Representative Kristen Lavric said Downard was chosen for the award for her dedication to preparing her students to teach middle-level education.
“We have worked with Diane in the Southeastern Region on several occasions, and she is so willing to make everyone’s schedules work to accomplish our goals,” Lavric said. “This is our way of thanking her for her efforts to prepare middle-level preservice teachers.”
Lavric said the award recognizes educators in the Southeast region of Ohio for their work promoting positive middle-level education programs.
“Diane is so excited about what she’s doing and inspiring a new generation of educators,” Lavric said. “Students between the ages of 10 and 15 have a very unique set of needs so their educators need a solid foundation to be successful in their careers. Diane has gone above and beyond to provide her students with this foundation so they will be able to provide their future students with a quality education.”
Downard said she and her students strive to promote the middle-level philosophies to educators in the community to meet the needs of these unique students.
“Students in this age bracket are going through a lot of life changes and it’s different for each child,” Downard said. “They need teachers who can provide a positive learning atmosphere and help them keep up their academic success. My students understand this need and are so passionate about working with the OMLA to gain further training and knowledge on how to prepare for their careers.”
Downard has been teaching at Rio since 2002 and has taught in public schools for over 20 years. Her experiences working with children ranged from students with severe cognitive and learning disabilities; K-4, seventh grade, and middle school general education; and seventh and eighth grade art and language arts.