Founder & Lead Trainer
Keri, the founder and lead trainer at Unleashed Abilities, grew up in Queens, New York. She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Syracuse University and a Masters Degree in Elementary Education from American University. Keri taught in Fairfax County Public Schools for 13 years in a variety of instructional and leadership positions. Keri developed a strong interest in working with students labeled as Twice Exceptional, children who are gifted, and also receive ESOL or special education services.
Keri’s connection to animals began when she was a small child. Animals provided unconditional love and friendship during difficult family and social situations. She became interested in dog training when she enrolled in a training program with her first dog, Baxter. After that she knew she wanted to help people bring out the best in their dogs so that the dogs would be happier and so would their owners.
While Keri was still teaching children, she was able to integrate her two loves, children and animals, together when she had a boy with autism in one of her classes. She successfully implemented a program using a bunny as a therapeutic tool. This was the beginning of Keri’s exploration into the power of the human-animal bond and how it could be used to help children overcome social, communication, cognitive and motor deficits.
Keri and her husband started an animal intervention program at a local transitional home for abused and neglected children. The dogs would visit with the children on a regular basis to facilitate healing and help work on trust issues, self-esteem, and conduct disorders. The dogs’ weekly visit was also used by the counselors as a motivation tool throughout the week. Keri and her dog, Sancha, facilitated communication skills and helped develop oral and written language skills with students in an ESOL (English Speakers of Other Languages) program. Keri and her three-year-old German Shepherd, Raina, have just completed their Therapy Dog Certification with Therapy Dogs, Inc. Keri hopes to become an evaluator for TDI and start a variety of visiting dog programs in Falls Church, McLean, North Arlington and the greater DC Metro area.
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