This month's "Where Are They Now?" segment features Shayni Thoenen, who attended Learning Together from 1983 - 1984 as a child with a developmental disability. Shayni's father, David, joined in on the interview to recall some of his favorite memories of Shayni's experience with LT.
Q. What year(s) did Shayni attend Learning Together?
Two years, 1983-1984, from ages 3 - 5.
Q. What are some of your favorite memories of Shayni at Learning Together?
My favorite memories have to do with picking her up after school on nice days. The kids would be out in the playground behind the building. I'd pull around the building in my sports car with the tape playing the score from Grease really loud so she'd know I'd arrived before the car was visible. She'd jump up from wherever she was playing and run to the gate screaming. I'd get to her and do the helicopter spin her around thing. It was the most fun of anything I've done in life!!
Q. How did your family hear about Learning Together? Why did you think it was right for Shayni? What appealed to you about the program?
We heard about LT through a psychologist who had been testing her to determine the nature of her disability. As for our view of suitability, I don't remember looking at other options. She'd been in some pre-K, several mornings a week kind of settings with all non-handicapped children. I think we saw LT as a place she could get more specialized supervision. The program just sounded neat.
Q. What are you doing now, Shayni?
I’m living in Raleigh in my own townhouse, and I work at Walgreen’s during the week, where I’ve been for three years. I do a little bit of everything, from unloading the trucks, to stocking the shelves, to ringing people up as a cashier. When I’m not working, I like to go to the gym or to the mall, spend time with my friends, go to the movies, and use the computer.
Q. What are your future plans/goals?
I’m currently learning to cook at home. I don’t have a favorite food to make, but I like to search for new recipes to try online. I’m also working on setting up a budget to follow.
Q. How have Shayni’s experiences at Learning Together influenced her growing up and getting to where she is today?
I can't point to any specific factors. It's been almost thirty years. I just know that we were very grateful at the time to have LT there for her. It seemed to be a very, very important opportunity to get her some tailored support.
Q. What advice would you have for any other families considering sending their children to Learning Together?
All I could tell them was we loved the place and felt it was wonderful for Shayni.