KinderFrogs, Fort Worth
Teaches: Adaptive physical education, for students with special needs
Education: Bachelor’s Degree, Kinesiology, TCU; Master’s, Adaptive P.E., Texas Woman’s University; Working on Ph.D., Texas Woman’s
Experience: Five years full-time
Amanda Young says it was no stretch that she might end up in teaching. That’s what her mother, a San Diego, Calif., schoolteacher, has done for 20 years.
A TCU professor helped channel Young’s interests in working with children who have special disabilities.
“I love working with kids, and I love all kids,” Young says. “Sometimes, students with disabilities don’t get the same opportunities that kids without disabilities get.”
TCU’s KinderFrogs school enrolls children who have Downs Syndrome and other developmental delays. Young works there and at the Starpoint School in the same building, teaching students who have ADHD and ADD.
It was Young’s work with one student this year that set parents off on a voting campaign to get her honored as a top teacher. KinderFrogs students range between 18 months and 6 years old, and they learn to walk, ride a tricycle, and run, jump and play.
Paxton, who has Down’s Syndrome, was in KinderFrogs’ Leap Class that serves 5- and 6-year-olds preparing to enter kindergarten.
“He was getting bored,” Young said. “He wasn’t being challenged.” So the school bumped him up to first grade.
“He was able to keep up with the kids, he was able to learn games and be a part of,” Young said. This fall, Paxton will enter elementary school in the Crowley school district. KinderFrogs staff, including Young, will make themselves available as support to Paxton’s new teachers.
“Miss Amanda has a heart of gold,” the boy’s mother, April Bierle, wrote in nominating Young. “She sees the best in all children. She works to make the kids feel good about themselves. She gets the children moving their bodies even if they don’t have complete control.”
“She’s an out-of-the-box thinker; she’s going to do great things,” Marilyn Tolbert, KinderFrogs’ director, says of Young.
Off the clock, Young is working on her PhD in adaptive P.E. kinesiology. She’s a foodie, spending time cooking and baking. And “I like doing anything outside.”