How do we make school meaningful?
I think about this because there was a time when school was not meaningful to me. Many people wouldn’t know that at one point in my high school career I stopped attending school; I wanted to drop out. School was too much; it was the same thing over and over and not meaningful.
I wanted a purpose to my day. So I took steps to advocate for myself to make changes in my school day. I focused on employment and what my life would be after high school. I wanted the school to work on this with me.
Knowing what it’s like and understanding how hard I had to work to change my school day is the reason why I now work in the area of transition. I want to work with schools and help schools to prepare youth for life after high school.
Transition programs to help you move from school to adulthood
Through funding with vocational rehabilitation, I now work on two projects in Montana to assist high school students with transition services, primarily focusing on employment or going to college, including MY Transitions and Pre-ETS TAC.
MYTransitions is the Montana Youth Transition Project. I am the facilitator for region one, the eastern side of the state. Montana has five regional groups. Each group shares information about what’s going on in transition based on regional needs. Together, the group develops tools and programs to support schools and youth. The project also holds an annual transition leadership conference called MYLF each summer. The project also supports job shadow opportunities so that youth can explore careers they may want to do in the future.
In addition, I also work as a private contractor for the University of Montana, Rural Institute Pre-Employment Transition Services Technical Assistance Center (Pre-ETS TAC). Focusing on pre-employment, we ask these important questions: What do youth know about work? What skills and information do they need? What training may be needed to reach their goals?
Pre-ETS TAC services are available to youth with a disability 15 years on up to graduation who may be identified in an individual education program or in Section 504. There are five main areas Pre-ETS TAC supports, including job exploration counseling, work-based learning experiences, counseling on opportunities for enrollment in post secondary education, workplace readiness and instruction and self-advocacy. As part of Pre-ETS TAC, I enjoy sharing my story and ideas about self-advocacy and the importance of independence.
Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act
The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act has provided a way to make change happen for youth. I am excited to see how it will impact the lives and outcomes for youth. In Montana, vocational rehabilitation is partnering with schools and providing financial support to better prepare youth with a plan for life after high school. When invited, the Pre-ETS TAC can go into schools and help them look at what they are providing for youth and based on needs of their students and develop work plans to assist their students.
Do you know what vocational rehabilitation could do for you? Now is a great time for youth and schools to get connected! Let’s see what we can accomplish together.
You’d probably agree that Isaac was successful in transitioning into his adult life. His determination makes us excited to share his story. But we also want to hear from you! Perhaps you have some transition tips of your own. Feel free to share with the Apostrophe community in the comments below: