District 202 Project SEARCH links students with disabilities to real work experience

District 202 students with disabilities are gaining usable work experience through the Project SEARCH program.

The national Project SEARCH High School Transition Program pairs students with disabilities with internships in workplaces such as hospitals, banks or universities.

The program is funded with a federal grant and relies on partnerships with the hospital, Trinity Services Inc., and the State of Illinois Department of Human Services/Division of Rehabilitation Services from Rehabilitation Services Administration.

District 202 is one of only five Project SEARCH worksite partnerships in Illinois. The program can accommodate 10 students.

Nine District 202 students in the Post-Secondary Transition and Educational Program spend their days at Adventist Medical Center Bolingbrook working in a variety of departments including the coffee shop, operating room or the lab.

They also take classes to learn skills in team building, technology, job seeking and money management.

“The hospital has opened its hearts and minds to our students,” said Dee Graves, Assistant Director of Student Services-Transition and Private Placement.

The ultimate goal is for the interns to gain competitive community employment.

Students must apply for the program and complete a working interview to be considered for the program. They also must have transportation to and from the hospital, and have completed all necessary credits to graduate.

Project SEARCH started in District 202 in August, said Graves.

The hospital and students benefit from the program in many ways.

Hospital patients and staff interact with students who have disabilities which allows the students’ skills in the workplace to be noticed, while the students get real work experience to prepare them for life after P-STEP.

District 202 is already planning for its next crop of Project SEARCH interns, Graves said. Eighteen P-STEP students have expressed interest.

Third ‘Next Steps’ transition training presented

District 202’s third “Next Steps Transition Training” program for this school year addressed “Self-Advocacy and Supports: Keys to Independence.”

The meeting was held Dec. 15 at the District 202 Administrative Center.

This is the second year that District 202 is offering special programming and information for community members interested in helping parents and caregivers plan, transition and advocate for their children with disabilities.

Additional trainings will be held monthly throughout this school year. All trainings will start at 6:30 p.m. Community members can attend as many of the trainings as they want.

The “Next Steps” team comprises District 202 Vocational Education staff who assist parents and caregivers with planning, transitioning and advocating for their children with disabilities.  “Next Steps” team members include Anne Twist from Plainfield North High School; Plainfield South High School’s Kathy Thomason; Plainfield Academy’s Colleen Goldenberg and Project SEARCH teacher Colleen Kelly.

The Next Steps team aims to improve delivery of services to families of students with disabilities; increase family awareness of disability options and resources; and link families in need to agencies that can support them with issues related to transition, said Dee Graves, District 202’s assistant director of private placement and transition.

“Next Steps” trainings will be held on Jan. 19, Feb. 16, March 15 and April 19. Topics have yet to be determined.

For more information please contact Dee Graves at 815-577-4023 or dgraves@psd202.org.

Record-high number of students named 2016 State Scholars

A record-high 266 District 202 high school seniors have been named 2016 Illinois State Scholars because of their superior academic potential.

This is the highest number of State Scholars for District 202.

This year’s total is 24 more than last year’s 242 scholars – which was also an all-time high for District 202.

The Illinois Student Assistance Commission awards the honor each year to students based on SAT, ACT and/or Prairie State Achievement Exam scores, and/or class rank at the end of the junior year.

High school guidance counselors work in conjunction with ISAC to determine the winners.

Each year’s State Scholar group comprises the top 10 percent of high school seniors from 652 high schools statewide

The Illinois State Scholar program recognized about 19,000 high school students statewide as 2016 State Scholars.

This year’s state scholars included 53 students from Plainfield High School.

The Plainfield Central Campus is up from 37 last year.

There are 69 students from Plainfield South High School are reported, up from 56 last year.

There are 89 students from Plainfield North High School, down from 93 last year.

Also, there are 55 students from Plainfield East High School, down from 56 last year.

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