The topic of our October meeting was “What does the Future Hold – Post Secondary options for Students with Disabilities?”
The panelists were:
Mark Chamberlin – from the Delaware Department of Education
Jan Abrams – from the Department of Labor
Joyce Kaufmann – from the Brandywine School District
Liz Murray – from the University of Delaware
Cory Nourie – from the University of Delaware
Gary Berg – from Brandywine School District
Lauren Padgett – from Lucasworks
Beverly Stewart – from Back to Basics Learning Dynamics.
We had 43 people at the October meeting, plus the panelists.
Because of the size of the panel, opening remarks were kept to a minimum but the audience was reminded of the Inclusion training by Stetson and Associates November 15 and 16 at Mt Pleasant Elementary School. This training is a follow up to Stetson’s Evaluation of Services for Students with Disabilities in Brandywine School District Copies of the full set of handouts for the more comprehensive three full days of training can be found on the BSNPTA website (Be patient, the files are large.) Note from Admin: These files were removed at the request of Stetson and Associates – Feb 2012.
Mark Chamberlin – from the Department of Education spoke about the transition process in general to put the other speakers comments in perspective.
For general information on transition, visit:
Mark said at the age of fourteen students attend, and participate in, their IEP meeting to talk about their future. After fourteen, the IEP focus is on post-school goals. IEPs in the primary grades are focused on basic academic issues. IEPs in the secondary grades should focus on preparing the student for success once they leave the public education system. Everyone should see the end of school and the begining of work or post secondary school coming. The Secondary IEP is focused on making sure there are no surprises. In this Secondary IEP, students are expected to answer questions like:
- Where’s the student relative to where that student wants to be?
- What needs to happen to get the student where they need to be longer term?
- What are the short term goals and objectives to allow the student to meet the longer term goals?
Here are some links discussing student participation in their IEPs:
- A Student’s Guide to the IEP by NICHCY
- Helping Students Develop Their IEP by NICHCY
- The Transition Planning Process
- IEP: Involving the Student is Important for a Successful Plan
- How Can My Child Be Involved in the IEP Process?
Mark said the state Department of Education will begin sending a survey a year after graduation about employment or college opportunities. The National Transition Longitudinal Study (there have been two) followed students through the tranition process for years to get the big picture. For information on the National Transition Longitudinal Study-2, see:
Mark also spoke about the involvement of the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation.
Lastly, Mark discussed the Early Start for Supported Employment which helps students with the most severe cognitive disabilities find and keep jobs.
Joyce Kauffman – Brandywine School District Transition Coordinator spoke of different opportunities that are offered by the BSD school district.
Brandywine School District sponsors events like
- Career days
- Breakfast with builders – where they meet potential employers
- Examples of how some people turned hobbies into professions
- Mock job interviews
- SITE program
Joyce mentioned there is a career resource lab at Mt Pleasant High School in the basement.
Gary Berg – teacher of 7th and 8th grade math students Hanby.
Gary discussed how he brings up different ways his students can use math in their career as part of his lessons and he discusses possible careers in his lessons and around the school as a way to keep the students thinking about what they’ll be doing after they leave school.
Gary said field trips are a great opportunity to see lots of different types of jobs but there are good opportunities within school too. Cafeteria, custodial workers, mechanics that maintain the school buses are all decent jobs that students should consider as possibilities.
Gary set up a community partnership with local vending machine company where students stock a machine, count the money, select new items and price them. If an item does not sell, they discuss lowering the price and describe how that will affect profits. The vending machine offered lots of real world examples of math like revenue, profit, margin, etc. Beyond that, the lessons taught the practical issues of servicing the vending machines as a business. The vendor is always looking for drivers and folks to service the machines and made a committment to hire students from the Brandywine School District who learned to run the machines. Unfortunately, the Hanby principal recently removed the machine so Gary is looking for another site to host the vendor’s machine(s).
Jan Abrams – from Delaware High School High-Tech.
Delaware High School High Tech is a career awareness program designed to help students with disabilities between ages of 14 & 22 learn about how their interests and talents can align with future careers. Jan highlighted some of the activities they offer through school programs and how they encourage youth with disabilities to investigate and prepare for careers in technology related fields. One of the main ideas is to match student interests and aptitudes with future careers.
Jan encourages students to consider that in each building in Wilmington there are different types of jobs that may not have occurred to the students. High School High Tech sponsors trips to leading local companies like Astra Zeneca and Dupont, and while they encourage students to aim high for college, many students are more likely to be employed by contractors offering services on-site like food service, hair cutting, etc. The point is that there are lots and lots of different possible jobs and just because a student does not have a degree in bio-engineering, that does not mean there is no job for them at a bio-engineering company.
Jan explained activities they do in school to prepare for jobs and life beyond high school. One thing they do are life simulations where students select a job, get paychecks, pay bills, run into problems like unexpected expenses, layoffs, etc.
Cory Nourie – from the Center for Disabilities Studies at the University of Delaware
Cory showed a short, interesting video on Junior Partners in Policy Making where students spend a week at U of D learning advocacy skills, how to take control of their own IEP and to speak up for themselves and the rights of their peers.
Other things they do are
- Prepare for life after school
- Goals for the future
- Night time activities
- Hear from former graduates of the program
There is a field trip to Legislative Hall in Dover and discussions on helping to draft laws to better help people with disabilities. By seeing the building, meeting some legislators and understanding the importance of citizen testimony in the process, the students are strongly encouraged to testify at appropriate hearings to make their voices heard.
Minimum age 15 to 22 years old with or with out disabilities.
The program is affliated with Partners in Policymaking.
Lauren Padgett a mother of an autistic child from Kent County and president of Lucasworks
Lauren talked about her company, LucasWorks, which was created to solve both the need for products that would help her autistic son and others with developmental disabilities, and the eventual need for her son and others like him to have employment. She discussed how she was concerned about employment opportunities for her son and his peers. She talked about how their family considered many different options that would play off the strengths and abilities of Lucas. She and her husband decided to take matters into her own hands by creating a company that would provide these young adults meaningful employment training and potential longer term opportunities. They focused on products geared towards kids like their son because they were experts in that field. Now they work with the local school districts Vocational Training program to provide students with job skills training, with the goal of eventually employing them. Lauren also discussed the importance of some of our products for those with disabilities.
Items included a thermometer that visually indicates the types of clothing necessary for the weather, a child identification package, furniture restraints to help make the houses of “climbers” safe and more. Check out the the Lucasworks web site for details and information on how to order.
Children with disabilities build, package and ship products. Over time their roles are becoming more complex and may include checking email and other office duties.
Liz Murray from the Academic Enrichment Center spoke on programs/supports for Students with Disabilities at the University of Delaware.
Liz gave an overview of the high school-to-college transition challenges for all student. Then she honed in on what a student with disabilities needs to do to maximize opportunities for success in college, using UD’s policies and procedures (and resources) as an examples.
Liz spoke about the University’s Academic Enrichment Center which offers help making the adjustments to college life as well specific help with study skills and some tutoring. These services are available to all students who need them.
Other information related college and students with disabilities are:
Beverly Stewart from Back-to-Basics Learning Dynamics.
Beverly talked about a partnership to provide extra help to students attending college at Del Tech between Division of Vocational Rehab, Back to Basics, and Del Tech Community College which began this year. The goal is to provide extra help to students with disabilities attending Del Tech to make sure they have the help they need to be successful. They offer remedial programs to make sure students are ready for college level courses and they offer tutoring to students as well. The tutors also provide advocacy help for students as needed. It will be ongoing each semester. The program is paid for by the Division of Vocational Rehab so there is no charge to the students. It is an unprecedented opportunity for first and second year DTCC students.
More information is available on Del Tech’s Student Support Services page.