(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) While Lafayette Senior Courtney Meers has a few more months until her high school graduation, she is already celebrating a big achievement.
On Thursday afternoon, Meers celebrated her completion of the Work Experience Program, a work study program for special needs students to gain job experience.
Meers was the first student to go through the new program. Twelve students from the Community Training Program (CTP), a vocational program for students with disabilities, applied for the position in December. Students were required to submit an application, call a teacher from the selection committee and schedule an interview, just like they would for a job in the community.
Alyssa Green, a CTP teacher, said Meers was selected for the position based on her attitude.
“She was definitely more mature than a lot of the other applicants. She has a pose about her, which is wonderful,” Green said. “We were really looking for someone who is just going to excel.”
Meers began the program on January 31, working on Wednesdays at Coleman Elementary Cafeteria and on Fridays at Crayons to Computers. For eight weeks Meers worked as a kitchen aid and lunchtime supervisor for Coleman Elementary and did filing and organizing work for the district at Crayons to Computers.
“I like to do the fruits, [I like] to wash them. And over at Crayons and Computers I like to do the filing,” Meers said.
Green said the program was created to bridge the gap between skills the students learn in the classroom and how to apply them in the workplace.
“Their favorite part of coming to the program is to go out into the community. When they do that it really helps generalizing the skills they learn here and being able to do them in a different place,” Green said.
The program is designed to help students like Meers adjust to having a job in the community after graduation. According to Green, the first year of the program limited the jobs to within the district to gauge the success of the program.
“This year we were really working at the district level. We wanted to make sure before I went out and asked the businesses in the community to work with us, I wanted to make sure the people in our district are really experiencing the same things to make sure this was a success within our district,” Green said.
“They’re just more confident and they are able to work on those skills as if they really were out in the community,” Green said.
With the success of the work training program, CTP would like to expand the program for the next school year. Teachers would like to be able to offer 12 seniors a chance to participate with local businesses. For more information on the program contact Alyssa Green at the Webster Learning Center at (816) 671-4020.