Special Needs Students Expand Vocational Skills With Local Businesses And Organizations
Plainville High School students Julie Zaleski, Sami Cyr, and Tahara Washington, recently completed their first year in district's special needs vocational program, thanks to the support of local businesses and organizations that opened their doors for the student workers. Federal Special Education law requires school districts to consider specially designed instruction for certain students with disabilities through age 21. After age 15, schools are required to provide not only academic instruction, but also instruction about independent living skills, employment skills, and post-secondary training opportunities for students with Intellectual Disabilities. Providing early and frequent real-world experiences in these areas outside of the school setting is essential to prepare these students to be productive members of the community by helping them to realize as much independence as possible in their adult lives.
Upon completion of their academic high school program the previous year, the three students spent this school year gaining valuable vocational skills working within the community in various work environments. Supervised by their Vocational Coordinator, Marilyn Badner, and Job Coach/Paraprofessional, Alyson Michaud, the students worked with local businesses including Delmar Products in Berlin, Gnazzo's Supermarket in Plainville and Confetti's Restaurant in Plainville. In addition to working with these local businesses, the students worked with the Plainville Housing Authority and the Plainville Senior Center with duties that ranged from cleaning, helping with social activities, washing dishes from senior lunches, and waitressing. Through the vocational program, the students were able to gain work experience, earn a paycheck, and learn banking skills. Students also worked towards developing a good work ethic, the concept of working to gain a paycheck, and how to budget the money they had earned. "While these work and community skills are so important, being immersed in their own community was probably the most valuable experience of all," explained Badner. "The girls have benefitted by becoming more familiar with the town they reside in and have developed lasting friendships. A special thank you is owed to the ownership and staff of the businesses and organizations that participated in the program for helping these students to learn these many important skills, as well as providing friendship and acting as excellent role models. We are looking forward to continuing the vocational program next year and hope to add some new experiences to help strengthen these very important skills to our students."
"The entire school year has been a very positive learning experience for these three students thanks to the efforts of Mrs. Badner, Mrs. Michaud and the Plainville businesses and organizations who partnered with us to provide some real-life and meaningful experiences for our students," noted Supervisor of Special Education, Anne Walsh.
-Posted on July 23, 2013 at 03:58 PM
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