All of the programming that is designed to transition the student from school to work emphasizes preparation for productive employment after graduation. To make this employment as successful and fulfilling as possible, we help the student explore his or her interests and then build upon natural talents in choosing possible career paths. As students mature, we encourage them to gradually become more self-reliant. Our Transition Services staff aids in this process by giving the students just the right amount of independence and interaction with the wider community, while still providing the supports necessary for the students to feel secure and confident.
Our School-to-Work Program offers students the opportunity to participate in true-to-life jobs within the school setting. The end goal of the program is to develop the students’ employment skills and social skills in order to maximize their potential for success in the real world. As such, students seek to obtain jobs by first filling out an application and interviewing for the position they are interested in, as they would in real life. Once the student obtains a suitable position at school, they are held accountable for their attendance and performance, so we work with them on such aspects of employment as punctuality, responsibility, and working independently. Many of the jobs the students procure involve our student-run, on-the-premises retail business. Students participating in the School-to-Work Program are trained to operate many of the state-of the-art machines that make customized products for sale through this retail business.
The High Road School of Perryville affords students the opportunity to take their learning outside of the classroom and transfer it into the community. We work with our students to practice the proficiencies they have mastered in the School-to-Work Program, and then, when a student is ready, a job coach accompanies them to volunteer or paid job sites out in the community. We partner with a wide array of local-area businesses (including restaurants, hospitals, preschools, and retail shops) to expose the students to real-life work experience and social interactions. In this way, students can explore numerous career avenues and gain valuable work experience to list on their résumés.
The Role of the Reading Specialist: In My Own Words
By Nicole Zaph
The position of Reading Specialist can play a number of different roles in a variety of school settings. This position is found at all levels, from elementary through high school, private and public schools. Sometimes the Reading Specialist serves as a coach for classroom teachers and at other times as a one-on-one intervention teacher with the students. In my position at SESI, I wish to fill both of these roles as intervention teacher and coach.
The students who meet with a Reading Specialist are most often recommended by their classroom teachers or administrators. These referrals are based on discrepancies between potential ability and performance, or reading skills that are far below what would be expected. When a student is referred, further testing is completed to determine the most effective course of action. I use a variety of assessments, such as the QRI-IV (Qualitative Reading Inventory, 4th edition) and vocabulary and phonics surveys. These assessments allow me to identify whether a student’s weaknesses are in decoding alone, comprehension, or a combination of both.
Following the individualized nature of our school programs, I am able to decide upon a plan with the classroom teacher that best meets each student’s needs. This may come in the form of individualized intervention in phonics utilizing one of a number of research-based programs, or as supplementary activities to assist the classroom teacher. If a student has strengths in phonemic awareness but weaknesses in comprehension, the plan for that student’s individualized sessions will reflect that.
Some of the programs utilized in our schools are: Edmark Reading, Orton-Gillingham, and Wilson Reading. Each of these is a research-proven program that addresses the “Big 5” areas of literacy: (1) phonics; (2) phonemic awareness; (3) fluency; (4) vocabulary; and (5) comprehension. Through such programs, students receive intense, individualized instruction in identified areas of weakness.
It is our responsibility as educators to ensure that students have the opportunity to reach their potential. It is my wish that all of our students find independence in their reading and that this independence helps them reach their goals.