Know a young person or group who has accomplished something special, achieved a milestone or who has gone out of their way to help someone else? Let us know, and they might be our next Patch Kid(s).
This week, we are recognizing Ridge High School senior Sami Weber, a volunteer in one of the classes at the Matheny Medical and Educational Center in Peapack-Gladstone. Sami also is co-president of the Junior Friends of Matheny, made up mostly with students from Ridge and Bernards High, which is a student version of the Friends of Matheny auxiliary group that has raised millions in funding for Matheny since 1983.
- Patch Kid of the Week: Ridge High School Senior Sami Weber, 18, of Basking Ridge. Because of her experiences at Matheny, a special hospital and educational facility for children and adults with medically complex disabilities, Sami has decided to major in special education at the University of Delaware.
- Patch Kids' Major Activity: Sami is a volunteer in one of the classes at Matheny. She currently is taking advantage of a special program at Ridge High School, called Senior Option. Seniors who know they want to major in education volunteer teach four days a week at a local school. Most of her friends, Sami said, are teaching at a local elementary school, but she said she decided instead to volunteer at Matheny.
- Patch Kids' School/Church/Community Center: Sami is a senior at Ridge High School.
- Patch Kids' Accomplishment: In the classroom where she volunteers, Sami said, “Sometimes I help teach a lesson, and other times I may work one-on-one with someone. When I watch the teacher, Karen Deland, I realize how each kid has his or her own different way of communicating.” The students in Deland’s class are non-verbal, but the teacher said Sami “has quickly learned how each individual child communicates, and she works effectively with each one of them. She understands our students and their needs as if she has been here forever."
- Deland recalled an assignment Weber was given to lead the class in a specific task. “She was given the topic of metamorphasis, as we were raising tadpoles to frogs. Sami took the concept and created a game for the students to play, which was a perfect way to teach. She led the class, and played the game. It’s inspiring and refreshing, to find a young lady who is so focused and determined to help students like ours in the future. She is comfortable in her role here and in the community”
- Patch Kids' Key to Being Noteworthy: Sami first visited the Matheny Medical and Educational Center five years ago as a result of her family’s friendship with the Desatnick family, also of Basking Ridge, whose son, Bryan, was a residential student. Initially she said had “mixed feelings” about coming to Matheny, but as she got to know Bryan and some of the other students better, all that changed. “Bryan,” she said, “was an inspiration, and now I realize the Matheny students are normal kids just like us." Sami had attended the Matheny prom the previous year, with Bryan as her date. “It was so amazing to see all the kids dressed up in tuxes and gowns,” she said. “It’s was so nice to see they could participate in things that normal kids get to do."