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Welcome to Julie Billiart Schools, a family of K-8 coeducational, independent day schools for children with learning differences.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2020

JB Alum Achieves Dream Job as Meteorologist for the National Weather Service

Snow and rain never bothered Rick Garuckas. From an early age, he became fascinated by weather and loved to watch storms come in across Lake Erie near his childhood home. Garuckas’ childhood involved studying radars and reading books about hurricanes and blizzards.

“I always knew it was my dream to work for the National Weather Service,” he said. Now, a successful meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Morristown, Tennessee, Garuckas reflects on his journey that led him to achieve his dream job.

Garuckas still remembers the day he visited Julie Billiart Schools’ Lyndhurst Campus. It was Saint Patrick’s Day of 1998. Garuckas entered the third-grade classroom of Sister Lois for a shadow day. “Right away, I noticed there was a big difference. There were other students like me, which was really refreshing,” recalls Garuckas.

When his parents informed him that he would be attending Julie Billiart Schools for the fourth grade, he was nervous, but he tried to keep his positive shadow experience in the back of his mind. As the school year progressed, Garuckas knew that JB was a good fit for him.

“They recognized early on what my struggles were and what I needed to do to combat them. They took the time to evaluate me individually and see what I needed to be successful, and they worked with me to give me those tools. They took the time to help me be successful because they believed in me. I would also like to thank my mom and dad for always believing in me and allowing me to have the best education and programs offered by JB."

When Garuckas graduated from eighth grade in 2003, he felt confident that he had attained the tools he needed from JB to be successful. He attended Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School, then went on to Kent State University’s Geauga Campus in Burton where he took part-time classes. In 2010, he transferred 65 credit hours from Kent State University to Oswego State University in Upstate New York.

After graduating with his Bachelors of Science in Meteorology from Oswego State University in 2015, Garuckas worked from home for a private weather company in Des Moines, Iowa part-time. During this time, he also worked for Lake Metroparks as a Science and Outdoor Educator.

Then came the opportunity of a lifetime! Garuckas had an interview with the National Weather Service’s Cleveland office. He was one of three final candidates out of 180 applicants. Although he didn’t ultimately get the job in Cleveland, he was encouraged that he made it to the final three.

“I was disappointed, but encouraged. 2018 went from me being disappointed to being really excited,” remembers Garuckas. Later that year, he found out that he got the job with the National Weather Service in Morristown, Tennessee. Garuckas moved in mid-September of 2018 and has been there ever since.

In February of 2019, Garuckas covered catastrophic flooding with numerous fatalities. It was a very moving experience for him because he realized how much the weather can impact people’s lives. Not only is he doing what he loves, but he is working to keep people safe. “It doesn’t feel like a job. I wake up every day doing what I love. It’s everything I thought it would be, plus a little bit more,” said Garuckas.

When Garuckas is not behind the weather desk, he likes to run and hike. He also enjoys exploring new places. His goal is to visit all 50 states.

open-quote They have all the resources necessary, specialized to the individual learning of each child, and the heart that goes with it. I don't think we would have stayed in Ohio if it wasn't for JB! close-quote

JB Parent

open-quote My kids love everything about JB and look forward to going to school every day and seeing their friends and teachers. JB is truly a one of a kind school enriching young lives everyday. close-quote

JB Parent

open-quote All of the teachers and staff at JB are patient and willing to take the extra time to make sure we, as parents, understand and are comfortable. close-quote

JB Parent

open-quote I don’t think I will ever be able to put into words how grateful I am that you saw my daughter for all that she is today and all that she is yet to become. close-quote

Tammie Sommer

open-quote Julie Billiart Schools gave us hope after our daughter was diagnosed with a learning disability. At JB, she thrived in the small classes, received necessary therapies, and developed the self-confidence to ask for help when she needed it. close-quote

JB Parent

open-quote Julie Billiart Schools has helped my child become a better version of himself. The teachers and therapists at JB really know and understand how to reach children who learn differently. close-quote

JB Parent

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