Category Archives: Program Structure

“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.

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.

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.

Learning life lessons one class at a time

Quad-City Times – Davenport, Iowa – December 9, 2013

Asking a teenager to take out the garbage or help cook dinner isn’t always the most pleasant experience for parents.

In Tara Rommel’s Life Skills class at Davenport West High School, the students are more than willing to pitch in around the house. Thursday was no exception.

The group of seven students and their teachers gathered at the Life Skills house on 36th Street to prepare a traditional holiday dinner complete with a turkey, fluffy mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, corn, rolls and juice.

West’s Life Skills program teaches special education students practical, daily living skills. The Davenport Community School District has similar Life Skills programs in each of the high schools and at the elementary and intermediate school levels.

Continue reading here.

 

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.

Going to the dogs: Autism program at Williams produces canine treats for sale

Times-News post , November 26, 2013 (be sure to click the right arrow at the bottom of each page to read the entire article).

A couple days a week, the smell of baking and cinnamon wafts down the second floor hall at Williams High School.

“When we walk down the hall, all the kids stick their heads out and say, ‘I want one,’” said Jennifer Hogg, teacher assistant with the school’s autism program. “And I say, ‘They’re dog bones.’”

They look surprised and lose interest, Hogg said.

The six students in Williams’ autism program mix the dough in their large classroom, roll it, cut it into Christmas or dog-friendly shapes, and hustle it down the hall to the oven in the food lab to bake.

It is a funny thing, said teacher John Osborne, since they had a hard time selling cookies last year. People would eat one cookie, but were too weight conscious to buy more. They get excited about dog treats, though.

While senior Tyson Haith starts mixing the dough, Zach Farrington puts the baked and cooled bones into a box with six squares drawn on it, one in each square. He puts them in clear plastic bags, and ties them with silver twist ties. Jaiquese Pinnix helps with the packaging and places them in a laundry basket. Each bag has the name of the person who ordered them.

Continue reading here.

Graduation Requirements for Students with Disabilities

Post from “Achieve” website:

The call to ensure that every student, including students with disabilities, graduates from high school well prepared for college and careers is acknowledged by policymakers, professionals and business leaders.  All students deserve access to the academic skills they need so that they can make their own career decisions. They should not have those decisions made for them because they did not have the academic preparation they needed or, worse, left high school with a diploma believing they had been prepared. Yet, the extent to which states require students to complete a college- and career-ready course of study for a high school diploma varies a great deal across the nation. It is critical that state policies and practices encourage students with disabilities to meet the college- and career-ready standards needed to attain the state’s standard diploma – and that states align the standard diploma with college- and career-ready expectations.
This policy brief was developed through a partnership with the National Center on Educational Outcomes at the University of Minnesota and Achieve to provide guidance to state education policy leaders to support the goal of ensuring that students with disabilities leave school with meaningful diplomas by providing background on the diverse characteristics of students with disabilities and their high school and postsecondary attainment, by exploring the policy landscape across states and by providing recommendations to states about how to improve current approaches to high school graduation requirements for students with disabilities and promote the successful completion of these students with the knowledge and skills to be college and career ready.

Continue reading here.

Anne Sullivan: An Early Transition Teacher

Transition may be something that has come to the forefront of the Special Education world, but it’s not something new.

Every June, the world celebrates the anniversary of the birth of Helen Keller, acclaimed blind/deaf/mute woman who captured the world with her successes despite her disabilities.

Anne Sullivan

While Keller developed the fortitude and self-determination to pursue her dreams and goals, much of the credit goes to her lifelong teacher, Anne Sullivan, who also struggled with a vision impairment. What she did to prepare Keller to be a productive citizen may not have been called “transition”, but that’s exactly what it was.

At only 21 years of age, Sullivan showed great maturity and ingenuity in teaching Keller. She wanted to help Keller make associations between words and physical objects, and worked hard with her rather stubborn and spoiled pupil. After isolating Keller from her family in order to better educate her, Sullivan began working to teach Keller how to communicate with the outside world. During one lesson, she finger-spelled the word “water” on one of Keller’s hands as she ran water over her student’s other hand. Keller finally made her first major breakthrough, connecting the concept of sign language with the objects around her.

Helen Keller

Thanks to Sullivan’s instruction, Keller learned nearly 600 words, most of her multiplication tables, and how to read Braille within a matter of months. News of Sullivan’s success with Keller spread, and the Perkins school wrote a report about their progress as a team. Keller became a celebrity because of the report, meeting the likes ofThomas EdisonAlexander Graham Bell, and Mark Twain.

Preparing students for life after high school: Florida School for the Deaf and Blind

This high school program is doing some amazing things to prepare students with visual and hearing impairments to life after high school.