Alana Ventimiglia started as a teacher aide at Mary Cariola 12 years ago and has spent the last 10 of those years in the classroom working hands-on with her students. But her passion for the organization began before even finishing her undergraduate degree. Alana worked for Mary Cariola one summer during college—a first job that soon became a fulfilling career.
Now, her skills and the abilities of her students grow on a daily basis. Working together on things like handwriting, social skills and reading, gives both Alana and her students a sense of pride and purpose as they begin to see—and hear—progress.
One student in particular that stands out to Alana was completely nonverbal when he came to Mary Cariola. He was also terrified of dogs and wouldn't go near the therapy dogs available at the school. Alana worked with him for six years on his independence and social skills, and by end of his time there, he was walking the dogs, talking to his peers and making other strides to become more independent.
"Their smiles do everything for me," said Alana. "Seeing them master something that was so difficult for them, and that excitement and pride that they feel when they're done ... that's the moment that really gets me."
Donations to Mary Cariola make it possible for Alana to continue helping students learn lifelong skills and leave smiling at the end of the day.