School officials recently gathered at St. Veronica Catholic School in Chantilly, Virginia to receive a check representing a grant that will pay for the part-time employment of a Teacher Assistant with an intellectual disability.
The grant, provided by Porto Charities, based in Arlington, VA, will be used to begin paying Miss Angela Beltran, who has been volunteering at St. Veronica as an unofficial Teacher Assistant since last year. She supports several teachers during the school day, including helping with pre-school, resource, and library activities. The school will add her as an official employee as soon as possible.
Porto Charities President Leo Alonso and Board member Mike Eisenberg were on hand to present the symbolic check for $10,000 to St. Veronica Principal Mike Busekrus, Pastor Fr. Dennis Kleinmann, and Miss Beltran.
“We are thankful for the financial support from Porto Charities that allows us to fulfil the mission of inclusion given to us by the Bishop Burbidge,” said Mr. Busekrus. He added, “An inclusive environment must also make room for meaningful employment for those with intellectual disabilities. Miss Angela contributes so much to the daily life of the school — we are proud to be able to pay her for her skills.”
Mrs. Sara Beltran, the school’s Technology teacher, is Miss Angela’s mom, and one of the teachers she is assisting. “I’m grateful to Porto Charities and Bishop Burbidge’s inclusion initiative for making it possible for Angela to get paid for what she’s already been doing here at St. Veronica’s. The teachers love having her, and she loves being here.”
Porto Charities, in conjunction with Bishop Burbidge, the Office of Catholic Schools and the George Mason Learning Into Future Environments (LIFE) program, has put in place a pilot program of Catholic schools employing adults with intellectual disabilities as junior class assistants, lunch and recess monitors, P.E. helpers, as receptionists.
The principals at Our Lady of Good Counsel, St. Veronica and St. Joseph have volunteered for this pilot program employing very capable young adults to work in these positions.