To prepare students for life and employment after school, ESD 123 has been providing pre-employment training and support for students with disabilities in 11 of the region’s 23 school districts since November 2016.
The program training was modified over the past summer and, since September 2017, has seen remarkable impact and growth. By changing the way services are provided to allow for working with kids during the school day, the number of students ESD 123 staff has reached has increased from about 150 to more than 500.
Eight training sessions are planned for the year, covering such topics as resume writing and planning for life after high school. The third round of trainings have focused on how setting goals can help students excel in their daily lives and achieve their dream jobs. Students are taught how to create effective goals through writing goals for a superhero of their choice before writing their own personal and school-related goals.
The training has had a clear effect. One student, after reviewing their Individual Education Program (IEP) goals, decided the goals were not challenging enough, and said he was going to set up an IEP meeting with his teacher immediately to update his goals. In another district, a teacher was brought to tears when one of her students, who was very shy and had never presented before, shared her superhero’s goals in front of the whole class.
Through consistent ongoing connection with the students, Lori Scott, ESD 123’s Transition/uGrad Administrator, says her team has established great relationships with the students and staff, allowing them to more effectively connect kids with experiences tied to their goals.
“We are really seeing a significant impact from our work on helping students realize their dreams and aspirations,” says Transition Specialist Krisheena Mason.
With increased funding, enthusiastic responses from teachers, and already four more districts on board than last year, Lori Scott is excited for the program’s future. She says they have connected with all but one of the districts in the ESD 123 region and are hoping to expand services next year to help students throughout the entire region achieve their dreams.