"Geri provided a straight forward, real world perspective on what it is like to live with physical challenges to the after-school program children at our elementary schools. I believe the experience of meeting and talking with Geri is one that will have a lasting impact on these children. It will stay with them and hopefully influence the way they interact with all people so that they understand that every person deserves to be treated with respect."
— Honorable Thomas M. Roach, Mayor, City of White Plains, NY
"Dear Ms. Mariano, Thank you so much for coming to Bell Middle School in Chappaqua this December. Everyone enjoyed both of your lectures and our Principal agreed that you connected with your audience immediately. Specifically, one of our students, who has a sibling who is different, really admired you and how you talked about your classmates and family. Your visit created an opportunity for our guidance department to explore some of your themes (accepting differences, compassion) with our students in smaller groups. We would be thrilled to have you back again and hope we can work out some dates. "
— P.M, Chair -Bell PTA -- Bell Middle School
It was a pleasure meeting you and hearing your inspirational story. Your courage and strength resonated with us all, especially the seniors who haven't stopped talking about your message of accepting differences, courage and perseverance. It is my hope that we can have you back so that all of Valhalla Middle High School can hear your message. Thank you so much and all the best to you. Keep in touch!"
— Kevin C. McLeod, Assistant Principal
, Valhalla Middle/High School
"Geri Mariano is no ordinary lady. Despite the challenges she faced and continues to face, she has turned her difficulties into sunshine and hope. Undaunted, empowered and determine to live a full life, she is an inspiration to us all. Children of the White Plains Youth Bureau agree, never have they met a more able person who has proven that that the only limits a person has are the limits of the mind. Yes, Geri Mariano is no ordinary lady - she is extraordinary!"
— Frank Williams, Jr., Executive Director, City White Plains Youth Bureau
pleasure to work with Geri. She is very skilled at connecting with children on issues of diversity, discrimination and bullying. Just as importantly, Geri inspires children and helps them to understand that differences make our community strong."
— Jeremiah Frei-Pearson, Esq., Chair of the White Plains Mayor's Advisory Committee For People With Disabilities
"Geri is a wonder! We've been friends since college - over 20 years! - and she never ceases to amaze me. Last year Geri visited the classrooms of my 2 oldest, and she was a huge hit. The Kindergarteners and third graders responded immediately to her openness and honesty - by the end of her presentation ALL wanted to be her best friend! It's vitally important for children to recognize that being different is okay - and Geri's school visits go a long way towards reaching that goal. I know that my three young daughters - who have had the privilege of knowing Geri since birth - love and accept her unconditionally. They notice her differences, but don't think of her as being somehow wrong or defective. She's "just Geri!"
— Jennifer D. Nelson, West Bridgewater, MA
"As part of our curriculum on Caring and Acceptance, we talk about how God made us different from each other. Usually the children focus on such individual
differences as hair, eye and skin color. When your impending visit was announced, the children were excited to meet a new friend. And that is who you were
from the moment you walked through our door. Your acceptance of who you are and your acceptance of who they are created an immediate bond. You went beyond
the 'what not to do' lecture and gave the children the tools — the words and actions — that they should use when seeing a person who appears
different. I highly recommend your presentation as it was interesting, age appropriate, and engaging,"
— Ruth Fisher, Director, Great Beginnings Preschool, Pleasantville, NY
"Ms. Mariano is different from most people in that she is shorter and walks with the use of prosthetics. She spoke about her life, her differences and how some people sometimes treat her, because she looks different. She let the children know that there is nothing wrong with her, even though she can't do everything that they are able to do. She truly encouraged our children to be more understanding and more empathetic to people who are different from themselves....I have been teaching young children for 34 years and I highly recommend Geri Mariano as a guest speaker in a school setting"
— Sandra Walsh, BS, M.Ed., West Bridgewater, MA
"Many teachers struggle with how best to develop a classroom of caring and compassionate students who are accepting of individual differences. Ms. Mariano allowed the children to see that, in many ways, she is just like the rest of us. Any school system with a disability awareness program will highly benefit from her program."
— Nancy Sidman, Kindgergarten Teacher, Spring Street School, West Bridgewater, MA
"Ms. Mariano does an exceptional job familiarizing children with her condition and with some of the many ways she has learned to deal with issues in her life surrounding her disability - lessons each of us can apply to our situations and challenges...Geri has a wonderful gift for putting her audience at ease and discussing every aspect of her situation in a way that is sometimes poignant, often humorous, and always unfailingly honest...Ms. Mariano is very thorough in her presentation, providing preparatory material in advance of her visit, allotting plenty of time for discussion as well as question and answer...I felt that when Ms. Mariano left, each of my students had learned a great deal not only about Geri's personal challenges, but also about dealing with all of life's challenges as well about themselves. I look forward to having Ms. Mariano return to speak to this year's class of third graders, and I enthusiastically recommend her program."
— Connie Keating, 3rd Grade Teacher, Rose L. MacDonald School, West Bridgewater, MA
"Geri Mariano presented a program on disabilities to our two fifth grade classes at Emma C. Chase Elementary School. Before arriving at our school, Geri had requested students generate questions for her to answer. During her time with students, she integrated answers to those questions and students directed additional questions that she answered candidly and appropriate for this age level...While Geri's message to students mainly addressed persistence in meeting the challenges of a disability, she also spoke to students about protecting others who are victimized by bullying...
Students were encouraged to actively stand against bullying behaviors... Geri's powerful presentation to our classes showed that she is a risk-taker and knowledgeable in her advocacy for treating all people with respect and dignity."
— Susan G. Gottlieb, Principal - Emma C. Chase School, Wurtsboro, NY
"Last October, as part of our "Teaching Tolerance" curriculum, the Ideal Montessori School of Queens, NY invited Ms. Geri Mariano to give a presentation on Disability Awareness. Our school has 150 students from K-8, and we arranged for the upper school (grades 4-8) to hear her speak. She gave the presentation twice, so that each group could be smaller and more intimate, and I will state unequivocally that each child left the room feeling as though they had made a new friend... She kept her audience engaged throughout her presentations. I was impressed by the respectful way she spoke to our students, and was unsurprised (but pleased!) when they responded in kind. The discussion tied in all the threads and the big conclusion that we all drew is that our culture and our society is richer when all the members are allowed to contribute. This was a wonderful program for our school, one which our students will remember for years to come. I would highly recommend Geri Mariano to do a presentation in any school. I believe that it would be a valuable lesson that any child would remember."
— Farah Chandu, for the Ideal Montessori School of Queens
"Geri's visit to our class was one of the highlights of our year. If there was any hesitancy at first on the part of the students, it quickly dissipated.
Geri spoke with such ease, such appropriateness and such warmth. Within minutes, the students pulled in closer to hear Geri's story and ask pressing questions.
Geri responded thoroughly with honesty and humor. In no time, it was clear that their similarities were much stronger than their physical differences. Geri's
visit to our class was the most meaningful way for my students to learn about tolerance and understanding differences. Knowing the wonderful experience that
awaits my new students, I'm looking forward to Geri's visit again this year and thereafter."
— Marion Kelly, 5th Grade Teacher, Wampus Elementary School, Armonk, NY
"As an educator I was impressed to see the wonderful presence she
displayed with the [4th Grade] students. Her message was engaging and she had their attention from the moment they walked into the room... Her message
was very appropriate and she delivered it in a manner that was relevant to her audience. She touched on topics related to diversity, discrimination
and bullying. I feel that that students and teachers came out of her talk more informed and inspired to celebrate differences... I would welcome Geri
back to the Howard School each year to speak to our students. Geri is a remarkable woman who delivers a wonderful message to all."
— Mark Bodwell, Principal - West Bridgewater Public School/Howard School, West Bridgewater, MA
"When Geri walks into a room, as she did the day she came to the Lawrence Woodmere Academy to address an assembly of students, there is a visceral,
palpable sensation that is nothing short of transcendence. Greatness cannot be described. It can only be experienced. How many people can walk into
a room of middle school students and even begin to secure their undivided attention? Embracing them with such character and presence, that, when
told they have to break for lunch, they are reluctant to pry themselves apart from Geri's warm, emotional hold? But answer for it she does. With
poise, elegance, humanity, and beauty, Geri Mariano answers society. "
— Nancy Tuck, LMSW and Limor Tintweiss, MA, Lawrence Woodmere Academy, Woodmere, NY
"It was an absolute pleasure to hear Geri share her motivating story. Geri connected with the audience and demonstrated that we all have abilities and, a place in the community. She taught everyone the value of relationships, and how with the right supports our futures are bright. Geri values Employment First, Community Integration and sharing her advocacy voice. She is a woman who is a true inspiration to everyone living with a disability. Her compassion, warmth, patience and humor serve her well in sharing her unyielding conviction to educate others."
— Nicole Buckley, Pennsylvania-State Director, St. John's Community Services-PA