Students in the elementary applied skills classroom had much excitement on January 26th when their teacher, Chris Thompson, received a surprise award for her drive to give every student their own voice.

Members from PATINS, school officials, and fellow Argos staff were in attendance when Thompson received the PATINS Project Starfish Award. The award is presented to educators who go above and beyond to meet the needs of all of their students through Universal Design for Learning and the implementation of accessible educational materials and assistive technology.

Chris was nominated by PATINS Specialist, Lisa Benfield, who shared this about Chris “she is passionate about finding a voice in every student and creating a nurturing educational environment where students are heard, loved and make educational progress. She is an inspiration and her enthusiasm and love for teaching is more than evident in her daily practice. She makes a lifelong difference in the lives of her students.”

Thompson recently led a grant process to receive two communication devices for two specific students in her classroom. Kerry Johnson, Argos Elementary Principal states “Once Chris learned about the grant to get the devices, she was relentless with getting it figured out. She has a determination to provide accessibility for all students.”

The story of the starfish is one that resonates with PATINS. They are dedicated to making curriculum accessible- even if that means one student at a time. That is what PATINS saw in Thompson with her focus to give every student a voice.

“I have two non-verbal students who were the drive behind seeking the grant to get devices” stated Chris Thompson, Elementary Applied Skills Teacher at Argos Community Schools. “Every student deserves to have their own voice and the support from school officials and PATINS made that possible.”

Chris has been with Argos for five years and an educator for 19 years. She serves students from kindergarten through fifth grade with a range of abilities. She is one of only 17 other Indiana public school educators to receive the Starfish Award since its inception nearly seven years ago.

Thompson was surprised and excited to receive the award, however, she was quick to shine the light on her students and how the devices have impacted them, “We have already seen growth in both our students using the devices. Weylin asked for a juice box the other day and it brought us so much joy in the classroom. Another student Sarah is using the device with her eyes and she is able to communicate with us in her own unique way. I absolutely love that my students have a tool to communicate.”

“We are proud of Chris and thrilled how she blesses our kids” states Ned Speicher, Superintendent of Argos Community Schools. “We are delighted PATINS not only helped Chris through the grant process, but also saw that she is so very deserving of the Starfish Award.”

Argos Community Schools has always followed the tradition of providing quality instruction to all students so that they can achieve success in learning. As a one campus k-12 school corporation, the goal is to maintain excellence to ensure the success of every child. Learn more about this high achieving school at

The PATINS Project is a state-wide technical assistance network that connects Indiana’s local education agencies (LEAs) to Accessible Educational Materials, Assistive Technology, Professional Development & Technical Support through the Indiana Departments of Education and Administration. Their mission is to help to support Indiana public schools in creating and sustaining an equitable learning environment for every student through universally designed access, engagement, and participation. To learn more about the PATINS Project and for no-cost support for Indiana students, visit their website at