50 Faces of The Arc – Katie

Katie has been working at The Aurora School, a year-round school for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities, for the past 10 years. She began as an ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) instructor and is now the testing coordinator. She tests each of the students at Aurora so that they meet all of their required goals. Katie’s favorite part of her job is working with the students saying,

“I love the kids. I do. Since I have to prepare all the student’s individual tests, I get to know each of them really well.”

 

Working with all the students allows Katie to see the progress they’re making, which keeps her motivated and passionate about her job. She exclaims,

“It’s amazing to see the progress, and makes me want to come to work every day! We’re doing something good here [Aurora]. We’re literally changing lives. And not just the kids’ lives but their families’ as well.”

Through the different activities at Aurora, students are able to go on CBI (Community Based Instruction) trips, where they can practice social skills at the grocery store, restaurants, libraries, etc. Katie says,

“Because of CBI, parents are now able to take their kids to the mall or grocery store without a meltdown. They’re able to take them to out to eat for the first time. It’s made all the difference in the world in their lives.”

 

In addition to working as the testing coordinator at Aurora, Katie also volunteers every year at Paxton’s biggest fundraiser of the year: Shocktober. Katie has a starring role as Mawmaw Carver, one of the spooky line entertainment characters for the popular haunted attraction. She’s been a volunteer and an actor since the fundraiser began eight years ago. Katie says,

“To use my goofy skills [acting as Mawmaw Carver] to help raise that kind of money has been such an unbelievable opportunity.”

Even when she’s in character, Katie still manages to educate all the Shocktober attendees about the importance of the fundraiser stating,

“I tell people what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, and where the money goes– and how it will go to good use.”

 

Katie is also pleased with all of the different ways that The Arc of Loudoun at Paxton Campus helps the disability community saying,

“We have holiday parties and a Spring Festival, where children with disabilities who may not have the chance to see Santa or the Easter bunny, now get that opportunity. And it’s free and open to the entire community! We also have the Music at the Manor concerts, which is a great event for the community to come and hang out.”

 

In the future, Katie hopes to continue working at The Arc and help kids to the best of her ability saying,

“I feel good working here. I feel like my life means something. This place makes me feel like, ‘I make a difference.’ If I can get through to a student having a tough time, then I’ve done a good thing. It’s so worth it.”

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