The Minnesota chapter (MNCLD) of the Council for Learning Disabilities (CLD)
has named Lily Ailabouni of the Expo Elementary School in St. Paul as their Dixie Holen
Teacher of the Year. Each year, CLD recognizes outstanding teachers who
consistently provide quality instruction to students with learning disabilities. These
teachers, selected by local chapters, provide direct services to students. They are
dedicated to collaborating with classroom teachers and other service providers to
greatly improve the quality of education for all struggling learners. The Minnesota award
is named for such an exemplary teacher, Mrs. Dixie Holen, who was a founding
member of the chapter.
        Lily Ailabouni is a learning disabilities teacher, servicing students across
multiple disability areas "with the goal of increasing their academic achievement and
helping them reach their true potential both in and out of the classroom setting". In her
collaborative efforts with general educators and other service providers, Lily believes
"all students can learn when provided with a safe, nurturing environment with high
expectations". She is the founding member of the school's Equity Team, a position she
chairs because, as her principal states, "she pushes me to consider race and equity in
my administrative decisions, …accounting for a child's emotional and social well-being
as much as academics". Her district Resource Coordinator notes, "Lily has a calling on
her life, and that calling is teaching students with learning disabilities… She teaches her
students to strive for excellence, to love learning, and to respect each other and
advocate for themselves".
        Lily also co-chairs with Expo Elementary's social worker an after-school mentor
program called Project Connections, making a difference by "supporting daily
attendance, decreasing behaviors, and increasing student achievement". As Ms Pope
indicates, "Lily is an amazing and talented teacher who makes a huge difference in the
lives of students with learning disabilities, breaking down barriers to their learning and
finding ways to help them be successful every day". Lily's constant concern is clearly
evident: " My dedication to student learning for all, regardless of race, culture, economic
status and ability, has remained with me throughout my years of teaching".
Recipients of the CLD Teacher of the Year award will be recognized at annual
international conference on October 24th in Austin, Texas.