Learning for Productivity

Region 16 superintendent, Michael Yamin, has a very ambitious goal for any individual who is going through Woodland’s transition program. This program helps enhance and strengthen skills that individuals contain and guide them through real world and simulated exercises. Yamin’s goal is for them to become productive members of society.

Students who have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) receive special education services and the option to stay until the age of 22 is offered to every participant in the program but is not required.

Students work Monday through Thursday and every Friday they participate in a community outing. A lesson is then designed to teach students life skills at this location. Another option for students who are in this program is the fifth year transition program, which Jake Petta did while attending high school.

“There are four students in the transition program at Woodland,” said Tiffany Vitone, a teacher that helps run the transition program at Woodland. “This is my seventh year teaching, and I would say in those seven years that I have had 10 or 11 students graduate out of the transition program.”

Students that might not be ready for a job or college usually go through this program. It helps develop employment skills by allowing them to visit job sites, teaching them how to make a resume and conduct an interview. Employment skills and life skills are taught to prepare each student. Not only does it help students get jobs but it also teaches them soft job skills so that they can live independently.

Those in the fifth year transition program are close to being ready for adult life but need another year as buffer time to prepare for their job or learn a few more skills before becoming independent in their endeavors. This year can be used to focus solely on their employment skills if that is what they’re preparing for but it’s truly catered to each individual that goes through the program in a broad spectrum.

Vitone recently received an innovative grant that allows her to buy groceries for the students so that they can practice cooking food and preparing their lunches. Students are also able to practice doing other important skills for living alone like doing laundry, washing dishes, buying groceries, navigating a store, and all aspects of being an independent adult.

“A couple of years ago we went to Barnes and Noble and the students went through a scavenger hunt I provided for them that helped them practice navigating a store,” said Vitone.

For those that can identify their path earlier down the road, they can focus on specific tasks to their field earlier. This was the case for Jake Petta who was able to work on the skills needed to be a custodian because he already knew he would like that job in the future.

Previously Petta had worked part-time summers as a custodian for the district which he enjoyed. This led to him believing that being a custodian would be a good fit for him and for his fifth year during the transition program he focused solely on this job. He already had his skills; he just needed some support before officially transitioning to working on his own. When he started the fifth-year program, he had a job coach go with him for a couple of weeks and then he could just go on his own.

During this time he learned his love for being a custodian and he is currently working as a custodian at Laurel Ledge. This position was gained through his past jobs and connections with Woodland. Petta can continue to provide for himself and following through with his productivity in society thanks to the education he recieved from this program at Woodland.

“My main focus was to learn about my job field,” said Petta. “I knew what to expect from my job and I learned to be a successful-good student in my first four years at Woodland.”

Outside of the program Petta was also a part of the boy’s basketball team as a manager/filmmaker. This position and responsibility helped to teach him to manage other people by himself and have confidence in the future for all aspects of life. His education was catered not to prepare him not for college but so that he could immediately become an independent worker. This allowed him to kickstart his adult life the second he graduated from Woodland and he can not continue to progress independently.