Mandan Middle School Helps Teen with Disabilities Transition Smoothly to New School

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Finding the right school for your kids after a move across the country can be hard, especially if your child has special needs.

But for one teen diagnosed with Down Syndrome, changing schools from Indiana to Mandan has been a smooth transition.

While relaxing after a half day at school, 13-year-old Joey Butterfield says he can't wait to go back tomorrow.

"He likes his teacher, Miss Kasi, and he goes to Mandan Middle School," says Donnie Butterfield, Joey's dad.

Three months ago the teen and his dad moved from Muncie, Indiana, to Mandan for a fresh start.

"He was very shy, but it didn't take long for him to pull through and to have his goofy little attitude that he has," says Special Education Teacher, Kasi Reis.

A combination of multiple heart surgeries, Chron's and Celiac diseases have stunted Joey's growth.

The seventh grader is 44 pounds. Despite his medical issues, his dad says the school has eased him into a good routine.

"They made him fit in with the kids because not a lot of kids had exposure to children with special needs and somebody with Down Syndrome that was so small," says Donnie.

The school paired Joey with kids from other grades.

"That way they could learn about him and he could learn about them," says Donnie.

"The kids are really really great with him. They will go up to him and give him high fives back and they will say hi to him in the hallways and his face just lights up," says Reis.

His dad says there's never a bad day with Joey.

"He smiles all the time even when he's cooped up in the hospital, just had surgery or whatever the case may be. He's always putting a smile on everybody's face," says Donnie.

Brightening the middle school hallways with his big personality everyday.

Joey is also getting involved in the community.

He'll be walking in the Bismarck-Mandan Heart Walk on Saturday, May 14. If you'd like to join #TeamJoey visit his Facebook page: