ESD program promotes employment for students with disabilities.

November 18, 2021

ESD program promotes employment for students with disabilities.

West Shore School News is a presentation of West Shore Educational Service District in partnership with Mason County Press and Oceana County Press. 

By Kim Beardslee, correspondent. 

VICTORY TOWNSHIP (Mason Co.) — As businesses across the area are struggling to fulfill open employment positions, West Shore Educational Service District (WSESD) is providing education and support services to promote employment for students with disabilities exiting the K-12 educational setting. One of the unique programs that WSESD offers is the “Employability Skills Class” (ESC) which is housed at the WSESD Career and Technical Education (CTE)/West Shore Community College (WSCC) campus.

Statistically, persons with disabilities are often unemployed or underemployed (Office of Disability Employment Policy).  The WSESD ESC program was designed to increase the probability of future successful employment for students with disabilities that attend high school at Baldwin Community Schools, Gateway to Success Academy in Scottville, Hart Public Schools, Ludington Area School District, Mason County Central Public Schools, Mason County Eastern Public Schools, Pentwater Public Schools, Shelby Public Schools, and Walkerville Public Schools.  The class focuses on developing the tools needed to be successful in today’s competitive job market. The class is open to students with an Individualized Education Plan in grades nine through 12.  They attend for a half-day all school year-long  Travel is provided by their school district on the regular CTE shuttle to and from WSCC.

The ESC addresses student development in many areas that are considered “soft skills”, which have been identified in the Skills 4 Success Framework as necessary employment skills. These skills include work habits, self-confidence, and character development.  

“We currently have 26 students enrolled between the morning and afternoon sessions,” said Aric Miller, WSESD ESC instructor. “The instructional tools I rely on are the ‘Life Centered Education and Employment’ curriculum and an online supplemental transition program called ONEder Academy transition curriculum for structured instruction. Students are able to directly apply the skills they are learning when participating in the ESC’s business tours or when meeting guest speakers.” 

Miller said the volunteer activities that the class participates in have evolved into an integral component to the development of a potential employment resume and work experience.

When talking with students currently attending the afternoon session they shared the things that they like best about the class.  One student said, “the tours and learning about jobs” while another said, “learning how to fill out job applications and turning them in.” Some students were able to share some career aspirations but were hoping that  the business tours would help them determine what they would like to do for employment upon exiting school.

The culminating end-of-the-year activity has been a day at Grace Adventures Day Camp in which activities are centered around further development and application of learned skills by participating in the activities provided by Grace Adventures staff. Some past exercises have included rock walls, team challenges, and high ropes courses. Upon completion of the class, data reflects an increase in employability skills with student growth of readiness for employment.  For more information regarding this interesting program contact Mike Jeruzal, WSESD program supervisor at 231-898-1671. WSESD partners to promote positive school outcomes for students with disabilities.

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