“It’s not always easy,” said Dylan Crum, a Class of 2015 graduate from the Special Education program. “You don’t always want to be there, but if you treat school like a job and treat everyone with respect, you’ll succeed. I guarantee it. The best thing I did was drop the whole I don’t want to be here attitude, listen to my teachers in my junior year, and establish work internships.”
Dylan spoke at the program, Building Bridges: Empowering Children and Families and Strengthening Connections to the Community, at the Southern Adirondack Education Center in Hudson Falls on May 18.
The event featured a Community Resource Fair comprised of more than 20 regional social services and a panel discussion on what the next step is for students who are graduating or exiting high school. The Community Resource Fair had representatives from local agencies such as Washington County Public Health, Hudson Falls Police Department, Hudson Headwaters Health Network, Planned Parenthood, Captain Youth and Family Services, WAIT House, Southern Adirondack Independent Living Center, and Warren County Career Center. Plus, two massage therapists from Spa Studio from Glens Falls gave chair massages and cosmetology students offered paraffin hand treatments and hair braiding. The culinary students provided desserts.
Dr. Turina Parker, Principal for Special Programs, began the program by saying, “We educate the whole child and work as a team to prepare them for life out of school.”
Taking advantage of transition services early while students are still in high school was repeated many times during the panel discussion that was facilitated by Washington County District Attorney Tony Jordan. The panelists were: Kim Meade and Lisa Buckley both from Community, Work and Independence (CWI); Mike Gray from Washington County Youth Bureau; Nancy Damoretcki, a transition specialist from Regional Special Education Technical Assistance Support Centers (RSE-TASC); and Brandon Waylett from Adult Career and Continuing Education Services-Vocational Rehabilitation (ACCES-VR).
The panelists discussed what kind of services they offer, how to qualify, and the timeline to expect before receiving services. They discussed the importance of parental support and the topic of transportation. The five panelists offered tips to students to prepare them for the world of work that included creating a professional email address, informing them that employers will check their Facebook page, and advising them to be responsible and return phone calls.
DA Jordan finished the discussion by saying, “The bridge has been built. It’s up to you to cross it. You have to advocate for your yourself.”
Click here for a slideshow of photos from the event.
Special and alternative programs at SAEC include the Therapeutic Support Program North (TSPN), BOCES Employability Skills Training (BEST) program, and Skills Training and Education Program (STEP). Programs are designed to build a community among families with children with various needs and the school staff.