Janice Diane Gambino, who passed away last week at the age of 52, had many roles. The longtime Arnold resident was the mother of three girls, a health expert and blogger, and a huge supporter of the Annapolis Junior Rowing Association.
But for the young children with special needs at , she was so much more.
Felicia Denn was the speech language therapist for Gambino’s class that was part of the Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) program at Belvedere Elementary.
“Jan's knowledge of special needs children was immense. She shared that knowledge through her actions with both the families and her colleagues,” said Denn.
“Jan has taught me many things about autism and behavior modifications for young children. We shared many laughs over the years and got to see the youngsters move into their home elementary schools. She was extremely dedicated to her students and their families, as evidenced by her working from her hospital bed. I will miss her, but am truly grateful for having known her,” Denn said.
Gambino was also known as "GERD Mom," an expert for mothers of infants and children with gastroesophageal reflux disease. She authored a book on the subject titled Reflux 101 and was a popular blogger on the subject.
“Jan was a very thoughtful, kind teacher,” said Belvedere colleague Mary Jo Young. “She was very focused and had the right temperament to work with her students. She was very caring and it showed in her lessons and in all her dealings with her students. Jan will be sorely missed by her colleagues and most especially by her students.”
Sue Brock was Jan Gambino's assistant in her ECI classroom for the past six years.
"Jan was an exceptional teacher, always patient and completely dedicated to her students. They thrived under her guidance and nurturing and many of them would ask to go to school on the weekends," said Brock. "One of her greatest strengths was her ability to advise and counsel the parents. She was always available to them and spent many extra hours writing notes, emails, making phone calls, having conferences and sometimes even making home visits."
“Jan was 100 percent devoted to her students and families,” agreed Kim Perillo, guidance counselor at Belvedere.
Gambino is survived by her three daughters: Emily Burns, Jenna Burns and Rebecca Burns; as well as her father, Richard Gambino; her stepmother, Pam Carr; her brother, Jeff Gambino; and sisters, Pamela Creaturo and Donna Gambino.
Memorial contributions in lieu of flowers may be made to Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Donor Services, P.O. Box 4072, Pittsfield, MA, 01202 or Autism Speaks, 5455 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA, 90036.