A K-8 Blue Ribbon School in Vienna, VA

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Welcome to Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic School which has a long standing reputation for academic excellence and a caring environment which facilitates learning and spiritual, social, emotional and physical growth.

News Post

We welcome Ms. Celeste Fernandes
We welcome Ms. Celeste Fernandes

Thank you Porto Charities.

Our Lady of Good Counsel School has been given a grant from Porto Charities, Inc. to employ Ms. Celeste Fernandes as an instructional assistant. Ms. Celeste will start on Tuesday, November 12th and work this school year with Ms. Pearson in Room 6. Ms. Celeste is a young lady with Down Syndrome, who graduated from the George Mason University LIFE program and has been working in child development centers and elementary schools for the past three years. She is an OLGC parishioner, who speaks, reads and writes Portuguese, has interned for the U.S. House of Representatives, and is a Special Olympics Athlete in soccer, basketball, and track & field. Ms. Celeste is very excited about joining the staff at OLGC and meeting all the students.

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 where Catholic schools employ adults with intellectual disabilities along with their job coaches, as necessary. They work as junior class assistants, lunch and recess monitors, P.E. helpers, as receptionists or doing other office work or anywhere a school deems appropriate.

The principals at Our Lady of Good Counsel, St. Veronica's and St. Joseph's in Herndon are very excited and have volunteered for this pilot employing very capable young adults to work in these positions. The GMU LIFE program will also be providing student internships at Nativity, St. Leo's and St. Mary's preschool in Fairfax in the same sorts of positions as mentioned above.

As the Diocese moves forward with Bishop Burbidge's desire for full inclusion in all of our schools, this pilot is a natural progression that will benefit the generation of special adults educated in the past 20 years in schools where they have received full acceptance from the entire school community. This has allowed them to perform at much higher levels than in prior years. They are ready and have proven themselves able to succeed in the workforce.

Porto Charities' desire is that as the school community and families of typical students are exposed to our special adults, owners of companies and those in human resources departments will consider hiring them as employees and provide more job opportunities. This pilot will blossom and be as successful as the special education initiatives have been in the Catholic Diocese of Arlington since their start with the Paul VI Options program in 1998.

A huge thank you goes out to all of the pastors of parishes and most of all to their parishioners that support these efforts by opening up their hearts to the annual Porto Charities Special Kids/Special Needs 2nd collections. For more information about Porto Charities please visit their website at https://portocharities.org/.

Leo Alonso, President, Porto Charities, Inc.

In photo left to right:

Christine Fowler, Porto Charities Board Employment Committee
Adrianne Jewett, Principal
Leo Alonso, President, Porto Charities, Inc.
Father Matthew Hillyard, OLGC Pastor
Celeste Fernandes, New OLGC Instructional Assistant
Paula Nunes, Celeste's Mom
Gemma Pearson, OLGC 3rd Grade Teacher
Mike Eisenberg, Porto Charities Board Employment Committee
Sheila Earhardt, Porto Charities Board Employment Committee