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Handle with Care
by Dan Eckles
Dec 19, 2012 | 5708 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune/Dan Eckles
Jenna Pagni-Casci ‘drives the bus’ with her rings. It’s a physical therapy game she plays with the school district kids she works with. A big part of her job is helping kids improve their motor skills.
Tribune/Dan Eckles Jenna Pagni-Casci ‘drives the bus’ with her rings. It’s a physical therapy game she plays with the school district kids she works with. A big part of her job is helping kids improve their motor skills.
Jenna Pagni-Casci is passionate about helping others. That shows in the profession she chose, in the way she spends her leisure time and in the things she says she’s most proud of.

Pagni-Casci grew up in Sparks, lives here now and with the exception of a few years away during her collegiate career, she’s been a Rail City resident her whole life.

“Family is the biggest reason I live here,” Pagni-Casci said. “I have a large extended family here. I do like Sparks, but more of a draw was just coming back to Nevada, especially after going to school (college) in California. That made me realize how much I like this state. It’s smaller. You can know the governor personally and feel like you’re actually part of the state and state government as opposed to California and states that are so big, that’s not really possible.”

Pagni-Casci has deep roots in the local community. She went to Lena Juniper Elementary School and Sparks Middle School before traveling across the valley to attend McQueen High during her teen years. The 38-year-old went to college at Point Loma Nazarene in San Diego and then attended USC for graduate school where she earned a doctorate in physical therapy.

Pagni-Casci now works as a physical therapist for the Washoe County School District.  

“I chose physical therapy because when I got injured in high school, it seemed like the only person that helped me and really knew what was going on was my physical therapist. So after trying political science for a couple of years I decided there was no future in that. So I changed majors entirely and went into exercise science for my undergrad.”

Pagni-Casci works largely with 3-to-5 year-olds, helping them improve their motor skills which in turn will also help them adapt and hopefully excel in the district’s schools.

“In the school district, I can only work with kids that are certified to be special needs or special ed,” she said. “I work with kids in order to make their educational experience optimal. If a kid comes to the district and can’t walk, then to help them have the full experience, I help them walk or maybe get them into the right wheel chair so they can access the school environment.

“A big part of the student population I serve is kids who are developmentally delayed. That’s my passion, to help them acquire skills and develop those skills so they translate to other areas of life. That’s huge. People think I just play with balls with kids. But if a kid can catch a ball, then they’ll have that much easier of a time to read.”

Pagni-Casci says helping the kids she sees in her profession is rewarding, but those aren’t the only kids she likes to help. Pagni-Casci enjoys coaching youth soccer in her free time. When she gets some time to just herself, she said she likes working in her garden.

“I enjoy putting seeds into the ground and letting them come up,” she said. “Actually using the vegetables or fruit after you watch them grow, it’s cool to see your labor and use it. I love functional things.”

While she may like some quiet time in her garden, there’s probably not much of it to enjoy. Pagni-Casci is a wife to Matt of 11 years and the couple has five children: Lucca 10, Marco 7, Portia 5, Enzo 2, and Ophelia 8 months.

She was asked what she was most proud of in life and she didn’t miss beat.

“I’m most proud of having kids that are good kids, respectful of people around them, having kids that are a blessing to the other people around them. The kids are not self-centered, and hopefully, most of the time, they’re looking out for others too.”

Compassion is the name of the game for Pagni-Casci. She was asked what one thing she’d change in her life and she didn’t respond by wishing for a bigger salary or bigger house, just that her dad wouldn’t be suffering from Alzheimer’s like he currently does.

Despite that family challenge, she constantly finds time to help others. She just may not find much time to help herself.

“I remember during college I would always say to myself, ‘I’m always so busy.’And now I go ‘My gosh I had all the time in the world then. I was single with no kids yelling at me. I didn’t have to cook for anybody. There was nobody who needed a hoodie or a lunch for school. I guess it’s all about your outlook on life at the time.”

Jenna Pagni-Casci’s Favorites

Food – Chocolate

TV Show – The Closer

Movie – Grumpy Old Men

Favorite Sports Team – ‘Whoever I think will beat Matt’s teams, but I always love Trojan football’
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