December 14, 2012 Shootings

Sandy Hook Elementary School

Newtown, Connecticut

Rachel Marie D'Avino

July 17, 1983 - December 14, 2012

Sandy Hook Elementary School, Behavioral Therapist

Rachel Marie D’Avino, 29, of Deerwood Drive died Friday, December 14, 2012 in Newtown, CT, protecting the children she loved so dearly. Rachel was born on July 17, 1983 in Waterbury, a daughter to Mary (Carmody) D’Avino of Bethlehem and Ralph D’Avino of Waterbury. A 2001 graduate of Nonnewaug High School, Rachel went on to receive her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Hartford, her Masters Degree from Post University, and was working towards her Doctorate degree from University of St. Joseph of Hartford. Just last week, Rachel completed her final requirements to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Her presence and tremendous smile brightened any room she entered. Rachel loved animals, cooking, baking, photography, and karate. She was an adoring big sister who cherished her two younger siblings like they were her own children.

Her passion, however, was her occupation as a behavioral therapist working with children within the autism spectrum. She had worked in various positions throughout her career providing behavioral therapy to children with hopes of helping them develop into happy and healthy adults. She integrated these children into her daily life; often taking them into her home, hosting holidays and crafting parties for them. She taught them and treated them like family. Her maternal nature, understanding, and sense of patience with the learning disabled were truly gifts she possessed. Ultimately, it is these gifts that would have given Rachel a level of understanding and forgiveness during this time of crisis that many others wouldn’t have.

Besides her parents, she is survived by her best friend and soon to have been fiancé, Anthony J. Cerritelli, of Bethlehem. Tony had recently asked Rachel’s parents’ permission for her hand in marriage. They were to be engaged on Christmas Eve. She is also survived by her stepfather Peter F. Paradis of Bethlehem, her sisters Hannah and Sarah both of Bethlehem, her brothers Stephen Paradis and his fiancé Tracy Vogt of Bristol and Justin Paradis and his wife Debbie of NJ, her maternal grandparents Helen and Brendan Carmody of Waterbury, her paternal grandmother Nicoletta D’Avino of Waterbury several aunts and uncles, and many many cousins who adored her. She was predeceased by her paternal grandfather Tomasso D’Avino,

Days before the Connecticut shooting rampage, the boyfriend of Rachel D'Avino had asked her parents for permission to marry her.

D'Avino was a behavioral therapist who had only recently started working at the school where she was killed, according to Lissa Lovetere Stone, a friend who is handling her funeral planned for Friday. D'Avino's boyfriend, Anthony Cerritelli, planned to ask her to marry him on Christmas Eve, Lovetere Stone said.

Lovetere Stone said she met D'Avino in 2005 when D'Avino was assigned to her son, who has autism, in their town of Bethlehem. D'Avino, 29, was so dedicated she'd make home visits and constantly offered guidance on handling situations such as helping her son deal with loud music at a wedding.

"Her job didn't end when the school bell rang at 3 o'clock," Lovetere Stone said.

Police told her family that she shielded one of the students during the rampage, Lovetere Stone said.

"I'm heartbroken. I'm numb," Lovetere Stone said. "I think she taught me more about how to be a good mother to a special needs child than anyone else ever had."

This page was updated: Friday, 04-Jan-2013 19:24:18 CST

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