Second Grade Teacher went above and beyond for student adjusting to a life with Tourette Syndrome.
NJ Center for Tourette Syndrome and Associated Disorders has awarded the 2020 Educator of the Year to Tara Loughlin, a second grade teacher at Wemrock Brook School in Manalapan. Loughlin was nominated by Tracy Straley on behalf of her son Dylan.
“Second grade was a challenging time for Dylan and our entire family,” said Straley in her nomination. “What began with a constant eye rolling turned into multiple severe full body tics thousands of times a day causing pain, anxiety and depression.”
Seven-year-old Dylan had been diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome – an inherited, misunderstood, misdiagnosed disorder that is characterized by sounds and movements known as tics. As many as 1 in 100 children are affected by Tourette Syndrome or other tic disorders. In addition, many of these children also struggle with associated mental health disorders like OCD and ADHD.
“Mrs. Loughlin was a godsend to our family,” said Straley. “She went above and beyond in every way. She made Dylan feel comfortable with himself despite his unusual looking constant tics and she encouraged all students in her class to be kind and accept differences.”
Loughlin provided accommodations to Dylan including multiple seating options including a bean bag chair or couch as he would commonly bruise his legs and arms on the school desk. When the lunchroom was too overwhelming for Dylan, Loughlin would give up her lunch break and eat with him in the classroom where Dylan felt most comfortable. She would even call Dylan at night to calm his nerves about an upcoming test or a substitute teacher.
“Mrs. Loughlin would encourage him to focus on his many strengths and embrace his differences,” Straley continued. “She called or texted me in order to keep my mind at ease and allowed Dylan to talk to me during the day as necessary. Some days his tics were just too much and he would have to come home but Mrs. Loughlin always called that evening to provide Dylan with encouragement and reassurance.”
Since 2004, this award has been designated for educators in New Jersey who have made a significant difference in the life of a child with Tourette Syndrome
“As the NJ Center for Tourette Syndrome celebrates its 15th anniversary, it is with great pride that we continue the tradition of recognizing the New Jersey educators who go that extra mile to serve students affected by Tourette,” NJCTS Executive Director Faith W. Rice said. “Through our education outreach programs, NJCTS provides teachers throughout the state with strategies and techniques for working with children with TS, including Wemrock Brook School. We are grateful to teachers like Mrs. Loughlin who take the time to learn and make a difference.”
Now, about to finish fourth grade, Dylan is doing excellent with minimal tics and greater confidence.
“Two years later and doing fantastic, Dylan still loves running to Mrs. Loughlin with wide open arms, giving her his one-of-a-kind hugs,” said Staley. “Her kindness provided Dylan with immeasurable strength and confidence. Mrs. Tara Loughlin is the teacher that my son, and all of us, will never forget.”