Get to Know  

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Get to Know

All across Maryland are amazing teachers, program directors and artists who are helping to make the lives of children with emotional and physical disabilities better in many ways.  All of these people are the embodiment of dedication. They work hard, putting in long hours and are constantly educating themselves and refining their own practice because, as you’ll discover, they wouldn’t have it any other way.


These are the passionate and sometimes unsung champions of our students and adults with disabilities, and in these series of profiles Learning Links is taking the time to get to know who they are and what they do.  Each piece is filled with insightful tips and moving stories that will educate, illuminate and inspire.


Tom Waite, Deputy Director of Operations, Best Buddies, MD Since 1989 Best Buddies has been on a mission to promote acceptance of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  Founded on the campus of Georgetown University by Anthony Kennedy Shriver, Best Buddies is an international organization that has grown to more than 1,500 college, high school and middle school campuses across the country and beyond. We sat down with Maryland Deputy Director of Operations Tom Waite to get a look inside this beloved program.



Musician Jess Magee of Rock-Able and Left Stronger.  Jesse Magee wants to rock your world. Hitting stages across the country with his band Left Stronger, Jesse delivers an explosive brand of hard rock that echoes the classic Seattle sound of Nirvana, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam. For people who know his story, Jesse also delivers a little more.




Sara Egorin-Hooper and Susie Swindell of the Very Special Arts Festival Sara and Susie are life-changing teachers who have spent over 30 years focusing on what kids are able to do versus what they cannot.   And for the past 25 years, this dynamic duo have set to work every spring with their dedicated team and multiple volunteers to transform Maryland’s Oregon Ridge Park into a day-long celebration of art and discovery for students with various physical, behavioral, sensory, learning and communication challenges together with their peers.



Terry Scott, Director of Education at the Kennedy Krieger Institute, Montogomery County.  The Kennedy Krieger Institute’s work in improving the lives of children and adolescents with developmental disabilities and disorders of the brain is internationally recognized as a model for innovative care.  Learning Links wanted to take a peek at what the day-to-day of this world famous program looked like.  We had a chance to sit down with the Director of Education at the Kennedy Krierger Institute, Montgomery County, Terry Scott, and hear how this very successful program works.



Rocco Aiello, Coordinator for Adapted Physical Education and Corollary Sports, St. Mary's County Public SchoolsTalk to Rocco Aiello about his amazing journey as an Adapted Physical Education teacher and you soon discover that he is all about inspiration. In fact, Aiello is either inspiring children with disabilities to discover the joys and benefits of movement or being inspired by the children who refuse to let their disabilities stop them from learning and participating in sports that their typical peers pursue naturally.



Sharon Holloway-Gentemann, Director of World of CareSharon Holloway-Gentemann understands the parents of kids with disabilities. As the program director of World Of Care, the well-loved medical care center for children with complex health issues, she witnesses what parents go through on a daily basis. Everyday life is stressful enough, but caring for a child with a complex health condition is a unique and unrelenting challenge. Often a family’s entire focus is on the daily routine of treatment for the children, and little attention is paid to the health and well being of the family members.



Michelle Wolff, Director of the Shriver Center and Project Success at UMBCWhen Maryland Department of Disabilities Secretary of Disabilities Catherine Raggio needed a team to bring her vision of a four-year college-like program for students with intellectual disabilities to life, she came to Michele Wolff the Director of  the Shriver Center at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Wolf and her team worked quickly and last year the SUCCESS program began its incredible journey. To find out what made this amazing program work, we sat down with Michele and asked her questions about the program, her experience, and a little bit about what makes her tick.



Dr. Therese Wilkomm, Director of Assistive Technology at the Univeristy of New Hampshire.   As Director of Assistive Technology at the University of New Hampshire's Institute on Disability, Willkomm wants to teach everyone to be able to craft extraordinary solutions for individuals with disabilities using nothing more than low cost materials, everyday tools and common sense.

Greg Miller. President and CEO of Penn-Mar Human Services. They might be separated by thousands of years and thousands of miles but Greg Miller and famed Greek Philosopher Aristotle share a belief in the power of self-discovery to transform lives. 

Dr. Karen Greeley, Physical Therapy Team Leader at Baltimore County Public Schools.  Dr. Greeley is all about movement inside and outside the classroom.  We sat down with her to talk about her work with children and her "Move to Learn Program."

Dr. Elizabeth Berquist, Assistant Professor of Special Education at Towson University. A member of the CAST faculy cadre, Dr. Berquist is a passionate advocate for Universal Design for Learning who shares her broad knowledge of the topic with our editorial team.

Tracy Jost, Education Program Specialist, MSDE. A specialist in the Division of Early Childhood Development at the Maryland State Department of Education and the owner of an inclusive child care center, Tracy Jost is very passionate about Maryland's youngest children.  Click here to learn about her busy career.

Dr. Jacqueline A. Nunn. Director of the JHU Center for Technology in EducationDr. Nunn discusses the orgins of the Center and provides an overview of the ground-breaking educational work they do to support teachers, schools and parents in helping identify and provide effective ways to teach and learn.

Jeanne Dwyer.  Coordinator of Assistive Technology, JHU Center for Technology in EducationMs. Dwyer, who directs the Maryland Assistive Technology Network for the Center, shares her extensive knowlege of assistive technologies that can help all children to learn.