In 2010 my sister Beverly Acierno passed away unexpectedly. She had recently retired from the Escambia County Public School District where she served as a Learning Disabilities teacher (the county’s first) and later helped develop and manage the program. For so many years we heard about her students, about her advocacy for students and their families in court, and the trips and presentations she made on behalf of the ECPSD. My family and I met many colleagues at her funeral and listened as they remembered Beverly’s passion for kids. One said, “It’s an end of an era; they just don’t make them that way anymore.”
My Niece, Jennifer Acierno Theisen, spent many of her schools days in the same school building as her mother. They were a pair. Jenny was an excellent student, eventually graduating from Washington High School. She earned a scholarship to Florida State University to study performance art, and later transferred to the University of West Florida, graduating in 1998 with a degree in Interdisciplinary Humanities.
Her mother’s passing was very difficult for Jenny. She decided to “dive” into life. Jenny married and was soon pregnant with twins–born in June of 2012. Then in July of 2013 Jenny passed away suddenly from heart problems. We were left in a state of great loss and bereavement after both mother and daughter left us so unexpectedly.
To honor them my family and I have set up a scholarship at The University of West Florida: the Beverly and Jennifer Acierno Special Education Scholarship. (Scroll down page.) This scholarship will support one or more students in the school of education who meet academic requirements. When possible it will support students studying to work with autistic children.
If you feel inclined to donate something to this scholarship my family thanks you. As little as $5 to $10 can make a huge difference in the lives of deserving students and children they will serve. Please send this link to anyone you know whose was a friend of Jenny or Beverly or who is concerned about children with disabilities, especially the many children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.