Category Archives: Post High School Programs

Michigan School Blends Instruction with Employment Experience

Posted on School News Network, March 6, 2014 by Tom Rademacher, this article highlights an initiative called ACE – “Achieving Competitive Employment”, funded by a grant from Michigan Transition Services Association and Michigan Rehabilitation Services.

Placing Students with Special Needs in Real-World Jobs

Kent ISD, MI —  You can learn only so much inside a classroom, especially if you’re a young adult with special challenges.

At some point, savvy educators say, you need to bust out and immerse yourself in the real workaday world.

Joe Carlon and Michael Taylor are discovering what it means to make that critical leap – from the nest a comfy school provides to the scary environments that can define some workplaces.

But with help from staff and others who administer transition programs for the Kent ISD, chances are that Joe and Michael will soon be working full time for pay. “I’m here every day, and I haven’t been late even once,” says Michael, 20, as he wipes sweat from his brow.

It’s hard-earned perspiration, and something he embraces, part and parcel of working part-time at the Meijer store on Alpine Avenue in Grand Rapids.

….[ACE] is an intensive course in “giving students experience with things they might like to do, and seeing the reality of what it takes,” says Kim Norman, who developed ACE for a consortium of high schools in northern Kent County where she serves as a transition coordinator.

ACE, which commenced in March 2013 and will serve some 30 students before it concludes in June 2014, is just one of many post-high school transition programs in place throughout Kent ISD.

Read more here.

Smiling With Hope Bakery: Real Life Skills with a Smile

Students in a Newark, Ohio High School are all smiles when it comes to making pizza. Smiling With Hope Bakery is operated by students with disabilities in a non-traditional way.

When it comes to pizzerias, the Smiling with Hope Bakery is not what you might call traditional.

Smiling with Hope is in a school, which means locked doors and specific hours.

There’s no direct phone line, no advertising, and customers have to order in advance.

There’s only one size option for pizzas, 18 inches, and two topping choices: cheese or pepperoni.

Still, the pizza is good, and people are starting to notice. This winter, Smiling with Hope Bakery — run by special-needs students at Newark High School — will be featured on Serious Eats, a cluster of websites dedicated to celebrating food.

Walter Gloshinski, Special Education Teacher, musician, and founder of Smiling With Hope, created this video as a thank you to the community for supporting the program:

….[Walter] Gloshinski has a caseload of six students at Newark High School, and they spend most of the day working in the bakery. There are another 10 that stop by just for a class period — Gloshinski’s students go elsewhere during that time for academic training — but to Gloshinski, the important factor is his students are learning while they bake. They’re not just rolling dough and shuttling pans in and out of ovens; they’re learning how to measure, shop, take inventory, follow directions for deliveries and work on a team, even with people they may not like.

Those are all necessary skills for the real world, Gloshinski said, and they are skills that will help his students land jobs later in life.

Read more about Smiling With Hope Bakery here.

See the Smiling With Hope Bakery website with menu here.

Kansas School Creates Greeting Card Business

A satellite school for special education students in Riverton, Kansas has developed a business project where students with disabilities are gaining skills for post secondary employment, according to an article in The Joplin Globe, January 23, 2014.

When Riverton High School special-education teacher Matt DeMoss came up with an idea for a new program, he figured it would take a year for students to learn it, adjust to it and begin thriving.

“In reality, we had to catch up to the kids’ progress. They’re now teaching one another,” he said Thursday morning as they got busy.

The students are running their own business, called 323 MFG. The 323 references their classroom, and MFG stands for manufacturing.

Their product?

“Greeting cards,” said senior Bella Stemm as she carefully ironed a 5- by 7-inch piece of wet, hand-created pink paper.

“This is my favorite part to do,” she said.

….DeMoss, who is in his second year of teaching in Riverton, said he wanted to start something hands-on for his students that would engage them and could be tied to as many curriculum areas as possible.

“They’re following written and verbal instructions, reading job tickets, doing math, handling money,” he said.

It’s also improving their communication skills and teamwork abilities.

“They probably all will end up after high school with Class Ltd.,” DeMoss said. “My goal while they were in high school, just like any other teacher, was to get them ready for that post-secondary career.”

Read the article here.

Vocational Training for Students with Moderate-Severe Disabilities is Yielding Success

The Los Angeles Unified School District has transformed their transition programs for students with moderate to severe disabilities to provide training for competitve employment (Press-Telegram, January 18, 2014)

Claudia is an obese teenager with developmental disabilities who long had a habit of acting out at her school by dropping to the floor and refusing to move for hours on end.

But since early December, when her school started a nail salon where the students perform manicures for each other as well as paying customers, she hasn’t pulled the stunt once.

“It so profoundly impacts the way she sees herself,” said the school’s principal, Christopher Eaton. “Her entire decorum has changed — she’s cheerier, she’s more positive. It’s just amazing.”

Claudia is a student at the Banneker Special Education Center, which, along with its sister school, the Doyle Career and Transition Center in Gardena, is part of a transformation sweeping through the special-needs strain of the Los Angeles Unified School District.

The district is moving toward a model in which all of its 8,000 students with moderate-to-severe disabilities receive some sort of vocational training.

Eaton is the new principal charged with overseeing both Banneker and Doyle, which are located three miles apart, and newly united as a part of the policy shift. (As of next fall, the school will be called Banneker/Doyle Career and Transition Center.)

Since its inception five years ago, Doyle has been a place where adult students ages 18-22 with moderate to severe disabilities such as autism and mental retardation come to pick up skills that give them not only a fighting chance to land a job in a competitive world, but also the life skills to make them happier, better-rounded adults.

Read the article here.

Best Kept Secret (PBS Documentary)

“Best Kept Secret” is a documentary film (PBS, fall 2013) that chronicles a teacher’s journey in transition her students with autism to adulthood.

At a public school in Newark, N.J., the staff answers the phone by saying, “You’ve reached John F. Kennedy High School, Newark’s best-kept secret.” JFK provides an exceptional environment for students with special-education needs. In Best Kept Secret, Janet Mino, who has taught a class of young men for four years, is on an urgent mission. She races against the clock as graduation approaches for her severely autistic minority students. Once they graduate and leave the security of this nurturing place, their options for living independently will be few. Mino must help them find the means to support themselves before they “age out” of the system.

Since the film’s release, filmmakers scheduled a congressional showing to further the progress of the Age In Act and teacher Janet Mino continues to develop programs to improve transition services for youth with autism.

Read more about the film here.

Download the film on iTunes here.

 

Project SEARCH: New Pathways for Young Adults with Disabilities

The Project SEARCH High School Transition program is a one year business-led, collaborative program for students with significant intellectual and developmental disabilities, ages 18-22. The program provides intensive training for students in a hands-on environment to gain skills for competitive employment.

There are Project SEARCH programs around the United States.  The FAQ page contains information on how to start a program in a community.

Learn more about Project SEARCH here.

Confessions of an Asperger’s Mom: Transition to Adulthood

Blog Post on a mother’s experience with a Transition meeting in her home with the IEP team, December 17, 2013.

Last night we had a Person Centered Planning meeting here at our house for Red.  The purpose of the meeting is to do personal goal setting alongside the mentors in Red’s life.  He decides who to invite to these meetings.  He actually schedules it with his facilitator and sends out the electronic invitations to everyone.  He also follows up with them days prior to the meeting to confirm if they will attend.

We have also made him responsible for shopping for and preparing a snack for his guests.  The snack last night was fresh grapes, oranges, apples and brownie bites.

Our crowd last night consisted of myself, Red, his Vocational Training teacher from the high school, his Pastor, and our facilitator, who just happens to be the head Transition Coordinator for our school district, and the Vice Principle of the 18 plus Transition Program, which he will be entering into as of January.

Yes.  Red will complete his high school credits at the end of this week! As of now, he will walk the stage with his peers in the graduation in June of 2014.  We will decide between now and then whether or not to give him his diploma at that time, and then transition him to the Department of Rehabilitative Services.  DARS will assist him and hopefully help pay for, career training/college or a certification program.  Otherwise, he can continue to receive adult transition services through the school district up until the age of 22.

Continue reading here.

College-Based Transition Program

Siena College in New York has a program for students with disabilities who are in post high school special education programs.

During the 2013 Commencement ceremony, Siena College presented Certificates of Completion to four students with disabilities who have finished the Siena College Transition Program. The Transition Program was developed in partnership with the North Colonie Central School District to help students ages 18-21 move into adulthood. Rather than remaining in high school special education classes, students from North Colonie participated in initiatives that supported their Individualized Education Plans in an age-appropriate setting. Each student had a college mentor who helped with assignments and reinforced appropriate socialization skills.

Challenging Transition to Adulthood for Marylanders With Disabilities

Capital News Service, December 4, 2013

FREDERICK – Like any mother of an active 20-year-old, Frederick County resident Michele Baisey has her hands full. But in addition to helping her son, Troy, balance school, work and home life, she faces a looming deadline that is unsettling for many parents in her position.

Troy Baisey, who was born prematurely, suffers from cerebral palsy and hearing loss. He is considered a “transitioning youth,” which means he will soon lose the guarantee of state assistance.

In Maryland, young adults with disabilities are entitled to public education until age 21. After that, families must apply for support through various programs and organizations. Services and financial assistance are contingent on eligibility requirements and the availability of funds.

It can be a frightening and overwhelming time for students with disabilities and their families, who are used to the structure and support of the public school system, said Mary Scott, a transition resource teacher for Baltimore County Public Schools.

“There’s no entitlement after you leave school,” Scott said. “It’s hard for parents to wrap their minds around that.”

Michele Baisey recalled the stress and pressure to complete multiple aid applications in a short amount of time starting when her son was a junior in high school.

“It was very overwhelming because it was so much all at once, and the applications are not short or by any means easy,” she said. “It’s looking back from birth and documenting and justifying everything medically … down to every doctor, every hospital, every medicine.”

As his mother navigates the state system, Troy Baisey is figuring out what he wants his future to look like. He had to modify his goals several times, like when he found out he would not be able to graduate high school with a diploma, or when he was told he may not be able to pursue his dream job of becoming a priest.

PEER helps young adults with disabilities transition to the adult world

Center for Persons with Disabilities (Utah State University) article 

A job interview is stressful. It induces racing thoughts, a beating heart, sweating palms—but imagine how much worse it would be if you didn’t know how to greet the person who interviews you. How do you shake hands? How much eye contact is appropriate? How do you start and end a conversation?

The Post-Secondary Education, Employment and Research  program is designed to help young adults with disabilities overcome both social and educational barriers so they can transition from the school system to the adult, working world. For four years, it has provided an environment where young people learn, research happens and volunteerism thrives.

“The biggest difference we saw between doing a program like this at college and at a high school is the difference in the behavior of the students,” said Kerry Done, the PEER classroom teacher. “The difference between a college freshman and a high school freshman is so great. The PEER students had better role models on campus.”

Read more here.