Matthew began in our Project Win Win employment training program in 2010. He quickly gravitated to the creative entrepreneurship side. He was gifted in technology in both audio and video. Matthew pursued the disc jockey entrepreneurship track and began learning DJay4 software on a computer. Matthew has progressed unbelievably and now owns a $2,200 Pioneer controller. He does paid professional DJ gigs in multiple venues. He is able to remix songs using Serato software using special effects, samples, filters and remaking songs that truly end up better than the original recordings. He is a showman and not only is a disc jockeys for Pathways Amplifire DJs, but loves to dance. During our gigs he is great at getting the entire party up dancing and in the groove. In addition to his music technology skills, Matthew loves using video cameras and video editing software. He learned the basics using simple hand held flip cameras and iMovie. Matthew has grown incredibly in his video production skills and presently makes fabulous videos using professional Canon C100 Mark II cameras, entire lighting systems, green screens, Tascam sound recorders, and Adobe Premium. He has done so well he was hired by Pathways to do all of our videos and is a paid job coach and teacher in disc jockey program. Matthew is a real inspiration to his peers because he has overcome tremendous adversity. He has worked hard and kept his focus on pursuing career paths he is passionate about. Matthew has become a success story through his hard work, discipline, and love for what he does!
As far back as we can remember, Stephanie dreamt of being a teacher and leader in the realm of educating youth. As a result of her brother who had multiple disabilities, she co-founded Pathways for Exceptional with her mother in 2002 at the age of 7. She worked with her mother tirelessly to expand Pathways and has devoted herself to giving children of all abilities and backgrounds opportunities to achieve their fullest potential. Stephanie has received many awards through her career with Pathways and was a part of the team of youth that went to Haiti to build a school. She is now fulfilling her dream of becoming a teacher in urban education at the University of Delaware (UD). She was accepted as a Teaching Fellow for the 2017 summer program with Practice Makes Perfect. Recently, Stephanie was given the title as a “UD Woman of Promise.” The professor that nominated her said, “I really DO think you are not just a “Woman of Promise” but a “Woman Already Fulfilling her Promise!” We could not agree more!
Ali Van Riper has always been huge asset to Pathways as a job coach and mentor. Ali grew up with reading and auditory processing issues. She struggled tremendously with academics. She was told that her life long dream of going to college to become a special education teacher would probably never happen. Ali never gave up. She worked tirelessly as a mentor and job coach. She many times exceeded the teaching ability of most certified teachers by creatively coming up with curriculum that connected beautifully with the individual learning styles of the children. Ali finally went to the Lewis School her sophomore year and drove 3.0 hours round trip to Princeton, New Jersey five days week. While doing all of this she continued to work almost daily with the children in Pathways. In September 2015, Ali reached her dream and began at Marist College. She is studying to become a special education teacher. She represents so many children that cannot follow the conventional academic assembly line. Ali realized, she simply had to find her own pathway to success. In June 2016, Ali made the ultimate sacrifice and became a part of the Pathways team of people that went to an impoverished village in Haiti to build a school. Ali is the type of person that loves to hear the word “no” and only sees it as an opportunity to open another door to achieving success. Again, with determination and passion Ali is an inspiration and has achieved the kind of success we all can learn from!
Emma Bernstein was born to be a mentor and began to teach and befriend children of all abilities when she was in kindergarten. She became a true friend that would pick the children she mentored at Pathways up for dinner, take them to a movie, or bring them to her house to play games. Mentoring and service was a way of life for Emma. She was an outstanding student in all of her academics, sports, and other extra-curricular activities. She had a very busy social life and schedule but she always made time to include the friends she met at Pathways. Emma took over as one of the leaders in our rock band and became a job coach for our employment program. She was instrumental in putting one of our best rock band concerts yet in April 2016. Emma is an example of somebody that understands the fulfillment that comes from giving to others and service to her community. She loved teaching the children so it is befitting that she is presently attending Vanderbilt University and is majoring in special education. Emma turned her own success into helping others to achieve theirs!
Jacob Jennis is a child that has multiple disabilities. His mother was told she needed to accept that he would achieve very little in life. There was no doubt she would have to adjust her hopes and dream for him. Jacob was born with mitochondrial dysfunction and lost much of his cognitive and speech abilities. He had multiple small left sided strokes that translated into physical disabilities. He exhibited many autistic features and had little eye contact, numerous sensory dysfunctions, and severe social issues. Jacob spent much of his younger life segregated out of district and placed in private schools for children with special needs. The future looked bleak for employment or achieving any kind of independence. However, Jacob never gave up. Jacob began Pathways at the age of 5 and attended the after school programs he was passionate about. He was a lead singer in the Pathways’ rock band and even learned to rap! He became a part of the Project Win Win employment program when he was 12 years old and achieved independent paid employment at the age of 17. He also pursued his love for football and played 4 years with the Montville High School football team. He achieved his dream of scoring a touchdown, receiving a varsity letter, and was recognized with the ” Most Inspirational Player” award from his coaches for his courage and determination. During the summer of 2016, Jacob also joined Pathways and went with his mom and sister to Haiti to help build a school. Jacob has learned that disability is more about your attitude than a label or classification. He has learned that when somebody gives you a ladder to climb, you just keep climbing higher one rung at a time! He is one of the most successful and passionate children we know!
Lauri Carabello began coming to Pathways almost from its inception. She was one of the first children to join the Pathways employment training program when it was in it’s infancy. She had a tremendous passion for working with children and set her sights on working in a preschool. Lauri worked very hard in Project Win Win trying various programs and career paths. She spent time mentoring in Pathways’ Magic of Reading program and did internships in recreation summer camps, day cares, and preschools. She has now been employed for two years working independently at a preschool for a little over 20 hours a week. There are few people that have achieved the kind of success Lauri has. She is paid for doing something she is passionate about and thoroughly loves! She has found and achieved her own pathway to success!