Gratitude Makes Life Better

In this season of thanksgiving, our leadership team shares what they're most thankful for.


Debra Johnson

Executive Director & Principal


"This is the time of year to hit ‘pause’ in our busy lives and take time to reflect on our many blessings and say ‘thank you’ for all the wonderful people in our lives.


"My personal Thanksgiving reflection will include a special thanks for the gift of each member of our Connections’ family. To our parents for entrusting your children to our care and giving us the generous gift of your time and talent to enhance the many things happening at Connections.


"Every day, I marvel at the incredible devotion of our staff and their unique ability to teach and inspire our students. They nurture a culture of fairness, love and caring, all focused on the goal of providing a safe learning environment for our students and families.

"I am also thankful to all our volunteers, supporters, and community partners who are always there for us and support our vision and contribute so much to our school in so many ways. And, I am grateful for our students who fuel my passion to make Connections a place of love, laughter, learning and inspiration."



Sonia Kay

President/Chair

Connections Education Center Board of Directors


Each year I am grateful for the fact that I have a wonderful family, live in a beautiful home, and have all that I need.


After the last few years of Covid and losing dear friends, being healthy and being able to enjoy what life has to offer is indeed a blessing.


As to Connections, I am thankful to be a part of a group of dedicated people who are making the world better for others. Working for Connections gives meaning and purpose to my life for which I am thankful.



Jason Portman

Director of Operations


I’m thankful for our dedicated staff that pour their hearts and souls into their work daily.


They provide a warm, caring environment here at Connections and help our students feel safe, loved and successful.








Pam Ludwick

Director of High School & Vocational Center


I am thankful to be part of an amazing community of professionals that dedicate their time and creative energy to make a difference in the lives of our students and families.


I am also thankful for my wonderful family.







Melissa Carman

Director of Education, Connections Education Center


I’m thankful for my family and grateful that they’re traveling all the way from Pennsylvania so we can spend Thanksgiving together.


I’m also thankful to have a job where I get to make a real difference every day. And I’m grateful for my coworkers and the way we work together so well.





Katie Wentley

Health & Wellness Director


I’m thankful for so much this year starting with our students who make my job not feel like work. I love what I do and want to go every day. When we started swim lessons, we had more nonswimmers than swimmers. Now, we have more kids who can swim than those who can’t yet.


I’m thankful for the parents who trust us with their children, allowing us the privilege to teach them to swim, to try new foods, to become more independent.


And I’m thankful for our supportive staff at Connections who treat each other more like family than coworkers, as well as for my own family who loves and supports me.