The Story

“Students first and disability second”

Most of the students in the two schools deal with severe autism. These are the students that may have been restrained in public schools and who can be aggressive. One of the coping mechanisms these students use is to wrap themselves in a blanket; this is represented by the figure on the left.

The image in the middle is a student that has thrown off the blanket but is still reluctant to make eye contact. Not making eye contact is a very normal symptom with the students who are autistic.

The third figure is in celebration of these students being coached, loved and encouraged to a point where they will get up on a stage and perform for their parents and friends. You will notice that the students remain in contact with each other; this represents the love and connection they find at the schools.

I will be sharing more of the story in the next newsletter. Until then, all the best,


I hope you will take the time to join me on this exciting journey.

When Dr. Melaura Erickson-Tomaino and I first met to discuss a commissioned sculpture that captures the success she and her partner are having in seeing beyond the challenges of their student’s, I knew this was going to be an exciting and challenging project. Exciting because of the subject matter and challenging because I knew in order to create a successful piece of art I would need to get to the heart of what they do.

After observing many students not reaching their academic potential, Dr. Tomaino and Dr. Edward Miguel founded Port View Preparatory®. Port View Preparatory® is a collaborative educational school that caters to the unique needs of K-22 students with developmental disabilities, both mental and physical. This is what they do, but what is the heatfelt story they want to tell?

To uncover this, I reached into my box of coaching tools and used a process I created more than 10 years ago. It is an intuitive process that uses the power of questions and images to uncover a client’s heartfelt feelings on any subject.  

Don’t be fooled by the childlike images below because the stories behind them are very powerful.

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The next day I shared my thoughts with Melaura and Edward and received their blessing. With my sketch and the story to be told clear in my heart I created the one-half-size study maquette (model) below.

These are the images drawn by Dr. Tomaino and Dr. Miguel. The stories behind these images are in response to the three key questions I asked both of them. Below are three of the answers to my question that triggered the drawing of these images:

“We meet them where they are and work one to one with them to help them grow and achieve things no one thought possible”

“We give a new found confidence.  Our students do and achieve things that others and most likely they themselves never thought possible.  To see our students who were previously withdrawn and shut down confidently go on stage for our talent show or get up and dance at our prom is amazing!”

“Loving and accepting our students as they are. Celebrating their unique differences daily and no matter what happened the day before having them show up the next day with smiles and loving arms!”

 After meeting with the founders, doing the head to heart exercise, and visiting one of their schools, it was very clear to me that these two are highly educated, trained, and skilled individuals who love and support the growth of their students. It was now time to let this information move from my head to my heart. On September 7, in the middle of the night, the image below came to me. Once again, do not be fooled by this childlike sketch, the story and emotions are

Capturing a Clients Passion in Original Art

"Student first and disability second"