Spotlight on Help Group Teacher, Emily Werman


The Help Group congratulates Emily Werman on this spotlight article featured in the KEEN LA February newsletter, and included here below. Emily is a teacher in one of The Help Group’s Early Education classrooms and leads an ACEing Autism Tennis program for Help Group students. In addition to earning the reputation as an outstanding educator at The Help Group, Emily is a volunteer for KEEN Los Angeles, a nonprofit organization providing free programs of recreation and fitness for youth with disabilities. As a program director for ACEing Autism, and in partnership with KEEN, Emily brings her experience as a tennis coach, and her gift of skill-building to train KEEN athletes.

“We feel a great sense of pride that you are part of The Help Family as a teacher and role model. You are surely an inspiration for others in all that you do,” shared Dr. Barbara Firestone, President & CEO of The Help Group. Emily’s caring and commitment is making such a positive impact in the lives of children with special needs who are touched by her spirit of volunteerism and giving back, and her daily commitment as a teacher.

At The Help Group’s 2019 Summit conference, Emily received a standing ovation after sharing personal remarks on overcoming challenges, and was presented with the Shining Star Award for her many accomplishments, and her dedication to making a difference in the lives of children with autism.

Thank you Emily for all of your dedication to our young people, and to the young people in our community!


Meet Coach Emily (and her furry pal Jackson)!

Coach Emily teaches KEEN tennis. Originally from Chicago, Emily now lives in Calabasas and works full time teaching special needs children at The Help Group which serves children, adolescents and young adults with special needs related to autism spectrum disorder, learning disabilities, ADHD, developmental delays, abuse, and emotional challenges. In addition to teaching at The Help Group, Emily is a program director of the ACEing Autism program.

Emily says that her journey has not been easy but has been worth all the hard work. As an individual with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Emily has had her share of medical, social, and emotional challenges in both public school and in her personal life. In public school, Emily worked very hard but never “fit in”. By the time she was 12 years old, she transferred from public school to a special needs school at The Help Group in Sherman Oaks. At her new school, she found an educational environment where she was understood and could understand better. During her early years at the Help Group, she discovered her passion for working with special needs children. The administrators at school recognized Emily’s passion and talent in this area and supported her interest in finding volunteer opportunities and jobs where she could work with special needs children and be a support to the special needs community.

In spite of the challenges during her early education, Emily was blessed to be a good athlete. Through sports, she found a welcome opportunity to interact with peers and felt more accepted. Over time, tennis became Emily’s sport of choice. With her parent’s encouragement, Emily’s hard work and a love of the sport enabled her to became a strong tennis player and competitor. In addition, Emily’s younger brother Charlie became a competitive tennis player, so tennis became a family affair.

Emily tells us she is so grateful for all the positive experiences from her participation in tennis. It helped her create many great family memories and provided a much-needed environment where she could be comfortable, accepted, and successful. She learned to be a good competitor and a resilient person through all her tournament play. And it has created numerous opportunities to teach and coach tennis along the way. Emily’s passion for tennis continued in college at California Lutheran University where she was a four-year scholar athlete on the Varsity Tennis Team.

One of the greatest experiences Emily recalls was volunteering for the first ACEing Autism program ever offered at The Help Group in 2008. At that time, she was still a student at The Help Group, and found it such a thrill to help develop the program and see the benefits it provided to the special needs students. For Emily, ACEing Autism was the perfect way to combine her two passions: tennis and working with individuals with disabilities.

In 2018, things came full circle after she graduated from California Lutheran University with a major in Interdisciplinary studies. Right out of college, Emily was hired at The Help Group, the very school that she graduated from, as class Valedictorian. She was hired as a teaching assistant and after a few months, she was offered a position to be a full-time teacher running her own classroom. During that first year, Emily started graduate school to pursue her teaching credential. In addition, she continued her commitment to Aceing Autism as their Program Director.

Emily comments, “Being a special education teacher is amazing. I am able to see the growth and progress of my students each and every day. It is truly rewarding to use my training and personal experience to help students grow socially, emotionally, and academically. Being a part of their journey and making a contribution to the special needs community are gifts that give great meaning and purpose to my life.”

Through a partnership with ACEing Autism, KEEN is honored to have this remarkable young woman work with our athletes as a KEEN Coach.