The purpose of our vocational program is to prepare our students for life after school—to be productive, independent, and participating adults to the extent that each individual’s abilities will allow.
At age 16, job skill development becomes part of our students’ individualized plans, with the goal of both personal independence and integration into the workplace.
In vocational classes led by a full-time Vocational Coordinator, teachers and job coaches introduce workplace vocabulary, different job opportunities, and hands-on work experience within the school environment. Onsite work experience includes office work, sorting and packaging, assembly line activities, and maintenance.
Before placement at a job site, students have the opportunity to visit a variety of places to gain an understanding of different types of work and discover their interests. Through these placements they are exposed to different workplace environments and have the chance to develop multiple skills. Volunteer job mentors travel with the students and remain onsite to assist in acclimation, reinforce skills, and help students develop appropriate workplace communication and self-advocacy skills.
Job sites have included Gilbertie’s Herb Farm, Fairfield University Food Service, and area elementary schools as child care and preschool helpers. Placements also currently include area restaurants, department stores, and Sacred Heart University.
The focus on school-based instruction during this time includes:
- Math: managing money using a school-based banking program, budgeting, and consumer skills
- Language Arts: workplace and community vocabulary, resume-writing, and completing employment applications
- Life Skills: independent living skills, such as meal preparation and shopping.
For students whose abilities are more suited for a community-based program, the focus is on:
- Developing appropriate social skills for community activities
- Learning safe behavior in the community
- Completing volunteer work and school-based projects
- Continued development of language skills for volunteer tasks and participating as independently as possible in community and living situations.
All students who are 18-21 are either involved in a community-based experience program or a vocational program with an emphasis on transition to adulthood. Students are guided to discover their own strengths, gain confidence from their successes, and value that which makes them different.