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Brighter Day by Jaxon Dees

District 20 Teacher Brittni Darras, whose personal campaign to thwart youth suicides garnered national attention earlier this year, has been named the 2016 Hero of Mental Health.

“As a teacher, Brittni not only has taught her students about compassion, but her acts of kindness have truly inspired our community,” said Dr. Mick Pattinson, president and CEO of AspenPointe. “Anyone can make a positive difference.  It takes awareness, a caring attitude and follow-through. I encourage everyone in a position of authority to follow Brittni’s example of making a positive difference.”

Last school year, Darras was shocked to learn from a parent that one of her students had been missing from class because of an attempted suicide. Feeling helpless and confused for having not seen the warning signs, Darras wrote a letter to the student, hoping it would help in the recovery process.
But she didn’t stop there. For the next two months, Darras wrote over 130 students a personalized note of appreciation, emphasizing each student’s positive attributes while pointing out that differences should be embraced and not escaped.

Darras’ handwritten notes to her students gained national and international media attention including Washington Post, The Today Show and Good Morning America.  Her personal account on Facebook was liked over 249,000 times and shared by over 192,000 persons.

“I want to extend my most sincere thanks to AspenPointe for selecting me as the recipient of the Hero of Mental Health Award,” said Darras.  “Not only did each one of my students receive a letter, but this is being recognized on a national and international level with other teachers writing their students personalized letters of admiration.”

Darras was born and raised in Colorado Springs and attended Doherty High School.   She earned her undergraduate degree in English from University of Colorado - Colorado Springs and her graduate teaching degree from Colorado College.  Darras has taught at Rampart High School District 20 for five years.  She manages the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) and “Bald 4 Bucks” Leukemia and Lymphoma awareness drives, coaches varsity cheerleading and has served as a student council advisor.



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