When Mick Mosher was a junior at the State University of Buffalo, he attended a Special Olympics event that changed his life.
"I fell in love with the kids with Down's Syndrome and realized that this was what I wanted to do with my life," said Mosher, a special education teacher at Walker Middle.
That decision didn't just change his life, but it greatly impacted students that he has spent the last 27 years educating in his special education classroom.
"You can't go anywhere without one of his former students coming over to him and giving him a hug and a thank you," said Amber Toskas, one of two paraprofessionals who works closely with Mosher.
He was recently selected by his peers at Walker Middle school as the Ida S. Baker Teacher of the Year.
Mosher teaches ten students who have a vareity of special needs and cognitive disabilities. In addition to teaching students basic academics Mosher also focuses on teaching students independent life skills.
"I teach them daily living skills that could include things like doing laundry or learning how to make their lunch," he said. "It's my job to help students be the best that they can be and make the world a better place."
Every student in his class is greeted with a warm smile and the knowledge that the atmosphere in the classroom will be fun and entertaining.
"He never ends his desire for improvement and believes in helping kids learn to be independent so they can function in the real world," said Patti Wiltshire who is Walker's ESE specialist.
In addition to assisting students to improve their lives, Mosher is currently in the process of completing a master's degree program in special education.
This is the third time that Mosher has been selected Teacher of the Year at a school. In 1989 he was given the honor at Caminiti Exceptional Center. He was also recognized by the Hillsborough County Council for Exceptional Children as their Teacher of the Year in 2010.
"He cares about these kids," said paraprofessional, Leigh Miser. "They know it and so do their parents."