Spotlight on Teresa Berden Clarkson, Transition Teacher

Teresa Clarkson has worked as a Transition Teacher and CTE Career Coach.

Teresa Clarkson has worked as a Transition Teacher and CTE Career Coach.

Teresa Berden Clarkson has a well established and admirable career working with students with disabilities.  She first began teaching 20 years ago at a Western Michigan University with student services.  She progressed to St. Clair County Community College – first as a Placement Specialist and then as a Career Counselor, continuing on the Macomb Community College as a Special Services Counselor.   Teresa then took  a detour back to secondary education in Grand County School District in Utah where she works as a Special Educator and CTE Career Coach.   Teresa’s current job responsibilities include counseling students in CTE pathways and Program of Study; surveying CTE graduates; collaborating with secondary, post-secondary, and industry partners; promoting College & Career Readiness Standards; coordinating the Grand County High School Annual Career Fair; advocatingfor CTE scholarship applicants; and assisting with Work-Based Learning Opportunities.

I serve a diverse range of students – exceptional learners, CTE technical students, at-risk populations, and gifted/talented from middle school to college age adults.

When asked what has been the most important development in Transition, Teresa states that,

new online transition assessment tools which allow teachers to gather transition data and compare results from student, teacher, and a parent prospective. The most positive things about working in Transition are when the joy you see on the face of students when they get their first job or get a paid internship position.  Every student should experience the sense of accomplishment for achieving a goal such as graduation or other milestone.

Teresa feels that the biggest challenge in her work with Transition students is often not with students, but with family members.

It is important for students to play an active role in their transition process; therefore, parents often struggle with letting their child set a goal for themselves for the first time.  Parents occasionally need support/coaching on how to help students create realistic, achievable goals.

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Celebrate World Down Syndrome Day

Today marks the 10th anniversary of World Down Syndrome Day. There are many ways people can celebrate and share stories and videos.  The website has multiple resources to help celebrate diversity and inclusion.

21 March 2015 marks the 10th anniversary of World Down Syndrome Day and each year the voice of people with Down syndrome, and those who live and work with them, grows louder.

Down Syndrome International encourages our friends all over the world to choose your own activities and events to help raise awareness of what Down syndrome is, what it means to have Down syndrome, and how people with Down syndrome play a vital role in our lives and communities. We will share your WDSD World Events on our dedicated WDSD website in a single global meeting place.

For WDSD 2015, DSi will focus on:

‘My Opportunities, My Choices’ – Enjoying Full and Equal Rights and the Role of Families

Learn more here.

If you have a facebook page, go to this story about how a woman’s 5-year-old daughter with Down Syndrome inspired her to open a bakery to employ people with DS and other special needs.

Iowa School District Implements Unique Transition Program

While many students with disabilities across the country meet the academic requirements to earn their highs school diploma, they so not necessarily meet the goals in their IEPs for transition to adulthood. Yet the regulations set forth in the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) stipulate that a student is not eligible for services under IDEA once a diploma has been earned and issued.  This conundrum has had special educators perplexed, parents frustrated and students confused about next steps.

One Iowa school district has a solution, thanks to a grant for transition to employment.  It has launched a program to aid students with disabilities who have met their graduation requirements but need to continue to work on transition goals.

Dubuque Community Schools soon will begin its new Summit Program for certain students who receive special-education services.

Lori Anderson, transition facilitator with the district, said the new program combines the best aspects of the district’s Lifetime Center and Super Senior programs to help guide students and their families on the path of independent learning, living and working.

Anderson said the district reviewed its career readiness and transition-based programs after receiving a Model Employment Transition Site grant in 2012. The grant’s goal is to increase the number of students with disabilities who successfully transition from school to employment. The review led to the new program.

Students who have met their graduation requirements but have an unmet Individualized Education Plan (IEP) goal or transition need are eligible for the program. They can walk with their classmates at graduation, but they will not receive their diploma until they leave the program.

Read more here.

Utah Celebrates ADA 25

UT_ADA_logoSalt Lake Valley, Utah, students, along with students attended the Disability Mentoring Day at Zions Bank City Center as part of the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act in Utah! Students learned about what employers want from employees, how Zions Bank works to create value in the community, especially with regards to their employees.

 

Students got a tour of the bank and attended a Zions Bank career fair on site, where they learned about different jobs in the Bank’s organization.

Photos of the event are posted on the Transition Universe facebook page.

Utah will be organizing many other ADA 25 events throughout the year.  Stay up to date by visiting #UtahADA25 on Facebook and Twitter.

New Report: “From Hard Times to Better Times: College Majors, Unemployment, and Earnings”

black-mortarboard-hiThe Washington Post reports that a Georgetown University report demonstrates a correlation between college majors and employment rates.  The report, From Hard Times to Better Times, which is based on research of unemployment rates of recent college graduates in 2011-2012, also demonstrates that college graduates fare better with obtaining employment than those with high school diplomas and no college.

….although the unemployment rate for recent college graduates stood at 7.5 percent in 2012, not all majors gave students an equal chance of finding work. Just 5.1 percent of elementary education majors, 4.8 percent of nursing majors and 4.5 percent of chemistry majors were unemployed after graduating, to take a few specific fields.

The good news for young college graduates is that regardless of their major, they have a much better chance of finding work than their peers who didn’t go to college. Nearly 18 percent of young workers with only a high school diploma were unemployed.

There is an upward employment trend that is reversing the rate of employment for college graduates vs. experienced workers, according to the report.

Recent college graduates are even doing better than experienced workers who only have a diploma, 9.9 percent of whom were out of work.

That’s a change from three decades ago, [Anthony] Carnevale [one of the authors of the report] said, when an experienced worker with a diploma was better off than a young worker with a college degree. That change reflects the increasing importance of technology in the economy and the shift from manufacturing to service.

Read the article here.

Read the Georgetown University report here.

 

“Linking Learning to Life”: Strengthening Transition Skills

A Pennsylvania School District has implemented a program that helps students develop employment and independent living skills.  Partnered with local businesses, the district High School has created an on site classroom that provides simulated experiences and career coaching.

Learning to Life (LLtL) is a two-tier secondary transition designed to aid students in making the progression from the classroom to post-school life. Activities are based on the individual’s needs, ranging from those with mild disabilities to students with more significant needs who require extensive support, and consider his or her strengths, preferences and interests.

“The majority of our services were previously contracted with outside providers,” said DiMarino-Linnen. “They tended to be ‘one size fits all’ and students were oriented to a community that was not their own.”

To address the concerns, LLtL considers the various paths students will take in the months and years after high school. For some, the focus is on independent living; for others, post-secondary competitive employment, trade school or college. Planning begins no later than the first IEP when the student turns 14, with a team which can involve the individual, parents, general and special education personnel and an agency representative. Issues such as course selection and the extended school year (ESY) program are addressed.

Read the article here.

Postsecondary Education Linked to Higher Employment Rates

An increasing number of postsecondary programs for students with intellectual disabilities are being created and implemented across the United States……with evidence of successful outcomes, according to a recent study.

Individuals with intellectual disabilities who attend postsecondary programs are finding greater success in the job market than those who do not pursue further education, a new study suggests.

Graduates of postsecondary programs reported higher rates of employment since completing high school, according to findings published online this month in the Journal of Intellectual Disabilities. The research offers support for a growing number of programs at colleges and universities specifically geared toward young adults with developmental disabilities.

Read the article here.

 

“STEP” Provides College Opportunities for Students with Disabilities

Another college, in Massachussetts, on board with providing transition opportunities for students with disabilities!

The Norton program, known as STEP, serves students with intellectual disabilities who are involved with three programs at Bridgewater [State University], STEP program teacher Ashley Rodrigues said.

While all of the programs are geared toward students with intellectual disabilities, the Transitions at Bridgewater and Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment programs are both designed for high school students between the ages of 18 and 22 who have been unable to pass the MCAS tests, Rodrigues said.

Transitions at Bridgewater offers students weekly workshops covering topics such as money management, social skills, campus and social media safety and interview skills.

The Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment program gives students an opportunity to audit a course and experience college life, including spending time with college students.

Read the article here.

 

Project SEARCH Model Continues to Provide Opportunities

The Project SEARCH model, originally launched in Ohio, continues to grow and provide high school to employment opportunities for students with disabilities.

Jesse Potter worked diligently on a recent morning to disinfect and clean a baby bed inside the University of New Mexico Hospital’s newborn intensive care unit.

Potter, 20, who has Down syndrome, is an intern at the hospital under a new program called Project Search.

Through the job training program – a first-year collaboration between the school district, UNMH and several other partners – students with developmental disabilities work as unpaid interns at the hospital and, if they successfully complete their training, the hospital hires them as full-time employees.

“You can see the pride” in Jesse, said his mother, Julie Potter.

The internship gives her son a sense of purpose and he thinks of it as his college experience, she said.

When Jesse graduated high school in 2013, he joined APS’s transition services, a program that helps students with disabilities transition to life after high school.

It was a scary time, not unlike when Julie Potter first learned Jesse had Down syndrome, she said. She questioned whether Jesse would be able to find a job, much less one that he liked and that filled him with a sense of accomplishment. After learning about Project Search, she rushed to sign up her son.

Read the article here.

More information on Project SEARCH

New Transition Center to Provide Transition Opportunities for High School Students with Disabilities

Three national organizations will merge together to create the National Technical Assistance Center on Improving Transition to Postsecondary Education and Employment for Students with Disabilities.  The national program will be housed at UNC Charlotte and will launch January 1, 2015.

The center will be housed in a suite of offices within the university’s College of Education.

Made possible through a $12.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs, the new center will absorb two other national organizations: the National Dropout Prevention Center for Students with Disabilities, based at Clemson University; and the National Post-School Outcomes Center at the University of Oregon.

All three universities – in addition to Western Michigan University, the University of Kansas and TransCen Inc., an organization that provides assistance for students with disabilities – will combine research efforts under one roof.

The center will work within special education and vocational rehabilitation systems at the state level to improve the transition process for high school students with disabilities entering college or the workplace.