Today, on national Employee Appreciation Day, we want to recognize Emily Reitenbach-Molina, Sycamore High School’s job coach extraordinaire. Operating the Aves Hangar would not be possible (or as fun) without Job Coach Ms. Molina. Those who know Ms. Molina know that she effortlessly brings the fun. Silly Sock Thursday is a student favorite.
Ms. Molina has been part of the Sycamore Community Schools community for 23 years. As job coach in Sycamore’s Work Study and Transition Program, she’s coached students working in the Aves Hangar for the last six years. These programs are designed to prepare students with disabilities for community-based, competitive employment upon graduation.
Currently 14 students work in Aves Hangar, filling online orders, tracking inventory, organizing delivery routes, keeping apparel perfectly folded, and handling customer service and transactions. This year, they have quickly learned the new procedures for the online store and have filled more than 650 orders to date, sometimes while jamming out to 80s and 90s rock. They are rock stars, so certainly need the soundtrack to match. Pride absolutely beams from Ms. Molina when her students work hard to learn important customer service and retail skills in the Aves Hangar, and as they transition to jobs in the community.
Ms. Molina is incredibly passionate about her charity work and all she holds most dear; her students, players (she coached water polo and fast-pitch softball for 10 years) family, friends, rescue cats, and her sports teams (Xavier and UC basketball, OSU Buckeyes, and sadly, the Bengals). She’s rescued more cats than she can count over the years and has “foster failed” several times, meaning she and her husband, Bryan, have agreed to foster a cat, but end up keeping the kitty as part of their family. She “pleads the fifth” when asked how many cats are currently in her family, but we believe the number is six.
Ms. Molina and her family started Shannon’s Butterflies 11 years ago in memory of her sister. Shannon’s Butterflies raises funds through t-shirt sales and other fundraising initiatives designed to combat stigmas associated with mental health/suicide. When people wear the Shannon’s Butterflies t-shirts year after year, important conversations are started rather than avoided. The funds raised annually support three organizations - the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, National Eating Disorders of America, and Mental Health America.
To relax, Ms. Molina says, “I enjoy being outside whenever I can. Whether it’s working in the garden and listening to our creek flow and birds chirp, or petting animals.” She describes her perfect day as “soaking up the fresh air...preferably on a beach watching the waves roll in, as there's no better sound than being surrounded by ocean life.” But, she says “there’s no such thing as a perfect day. I just try and make the best of every day, since tomorrow is not guaranteed.”