Jared Ruggieri sat in a chair in the main foyer of the Affton Early Childhood Center, posing for another photo as part of his Rosemary Zander Award recognition.
Every few minutes a student walks by and says with a big smile, “Hi, Jared!” The steady stream of students wanting to congratulate Jared lasted for the duration of the photoshoot.
As each student greets him, Jared’s support team and nominators, Erin Kaiser, Chris Mataya, Sharon Ghormley and Katie Meyer, all smile. They know of no better sign of how much Jared has grown over the last two years than these interactions.
“He’s really come out of his shell,” said Kaiser.
“He was very shy and quiet, and not really able to express himself,” Mataya said. “Now, he’ll tell us stories and ask his peers to come and play with him on the playground.”
Jared has found a topic that he and his peers really enjoy.
“He’s talking about his favorite topic, ‘The Avengers,’” Mataya said. “He’s always asking kids to play and all of the kids love playing that with him.”
“It’s just amazing to see how far he’s come in such a short time,” said Kaiser.
“Jared is an absolute star,” Mataya added.
In recognition of his outstanding growth, Jared has been selected for the Rosemary Zander Award.