How it Began Meet Rachelle Vartanian:
Living & Learning Enrichment Center is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded by Rachelle Vartanian. Rachelle graduated from Eastern Michigan University with a Bachelor’s Degree in teaching for the emotionally impaired. Right out of college, she worked at lock up center for adjudicated youth. She was passionate about this and worked with this population for over ten years. During this time, she went back to school and obtained a Master’s Degree in Educational Psychology with a concentration in Personality & Development. She did this to better understand why so many of her students chose to behave in self destructive manners.
It was also during this time Rachelle was seeing
signs of autism in her youngest son. When he was
officially diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, she
made the decision to go back to school and get a
second Master’s Degree in Autism Spectrum Disorders
from Madonna University. It was also during this time,
she started teaching high school special education in
Farmington Public Schools.
Looking for social skills groups that would benefit her son brought her to the realization that there was few and far between. The ones that were available cost an absorbent amount of money and had her driving forty-five minutes each way. She took it upon herself to create her own group locally. Every Sunday at 1pm in a room she rented at the Farmington Public Library she facilitated a group of like-minded individuals which they called Weamara (the initials of the original social skills group members) for almost two years.
She took a leap of faith and quit her job after being a special education teacher for 20 years when a buy-out was offered at the school district she worked at. Selling her family home of twenty years, drawing money from her retirement, and downsizing her life allowed Living & Learning to be born.