Latham friends and family read and share career highlights in Virtual Storytime

The final full week of our Virtual Storytime sessions in June continued to benefit our Latham students and friends from across the country with Prader-Willi syndrome. In Week 4 of our Professionals in OUR Community series, students met a local artist, a special education school administrator, and a beautician and salon owner.

On Monday, Patrice “Pat” Fryklund, read Frida Kahlo and her Animalitos written by Monica Brown and illustrated by John Parra. Pat is an artist from Wellfleet, Massachusetts, and mother of Katrina Fryklund, Latham’s Director of National Outreach and Storytime Coordinator. “The kiddos were delighted to meet Pat and ask her about her artwork because, as Pat said, we are all artists,” Katrina said. “Whether you like to draw pictures or paint paintings or write great stories – we all have that sense of creativity deep within us.” Students asked Brittni Kliment, Patrice Carroll, and Katrina if they could send photos along to Pat so that she could check out their artwork. Pat was delighted and said she looks forward to seeing some beautiful creations from the students she met.

Wednesday was equally as special as Brittni Kliment, Director of Program Marketing & Admissions (and Storytime Coordinator), invited her best friend and previous Latham Assistant Principal Kara McDowell. Kara is now a Special Education Administrator at a Cape Cod middle school, and she continues to work with individuals diagnosed with PWS. After Kara read Showtime for Flip-Flop by Janice Levy and illustrated by Colleen Madden, Logan asked, “How did you start advocating for people with PWS?” Kara explained that when she was in high school, one of her friends had a brother with PWS. She was immediately drawn to his fun and kind personality and decided that during college and beyond, she would pursue her dream to help individuals with PWS be successful. Katrina noted that students expressed their gratitude to Kara for her many years of work in our community, and Trevor told her a few awesome jokes resulting in fits of laughter from students and staff in the Virtual Storytime!

The week ended on a high note when Ashley Pouliot, Admissions Assistant, invited her friend and previous boss, Becca Tambascia, to read Zeely Zebra by Barbara deRubertis and illustrated by Eva Vagreti Cockrille. Becca read about Zeely the Zebra who aspired to reach her goal of joining the All-Star Racing Team. The story fit perfectly with Becca’s inspirational tale of owning her own business, Essential Beauty at Atlantis in Hyannis. Not just the owner, Becca continues to style and cut clients’ hair because, as she stated, “That has always been my passion!” She spoke to the students about following their dreams, and when asked about her inspiration, she told the story of her father noticing her passion from a young age and encouraging her to pursue her dreams. Now she states she’d never look back! Some of our attendees also aspire to do cosmetology and hairstyling – it was a wonderful opportunity for them to connect with a local professional.

The coordinators of Latham’s June Storytime series of guest professionals have noticed a common thread amongst our readers: those who are connected to our field are passionate about helping all people with special needs, and they are inspired by our students with Prader-Willi syndrome. While each one of their stories is different, Kara said it best, “The people that I know with PWS are fun, caring, encouraging, smart, and creative – and I’m so happy that I’ve had the chance to get to know all of you.”

Thank you so much, Pat, Becca, and Kara, for joining us online for Virtual Storytime! Next week we’ll share highlights of our final “Professionals in OUR community” Storytime series.

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