School to Work Program at Pocono Mountain School District – 2015-2016
The Pocono Mountain School District has a dynamic program to serve our students with special needs, as well as our local businesses and community. The Pocono Mountain School to Work program is designed to prepare students for transition to future employment and independent living. The population of students that receive Lifeskills Support and Full Time Learning Support at the senior high level are the main participants of the program.
The Pocono Mountain School to Work program has three main components; functional academics, community based instruction, and independent living skills. Functional academics focus mainly on reading, writing and math skills, using research-based curriculum and applying practical skills. Community based instruction involves supervising students in real-life vocational experiences, within the district and out in the community with participating local businesses. Independent living skills will help prepare students for everyday life after graduation, focusing on self sufficiency in domestic and personal skills.
There are currently 30 students working within the program, between the ages of 17 – 21 years old. The teachers of the program are Steven A. Werner and Jerry Greeley, both who have been teaching students with special needs for many years. There are 5 paraprofessionals who work within the classroom as well, all who have many years of experience as well; in addition, there are other one on one paraprofessionals, TSS workers, nurses, etc. to help all students be successful.
The program consists of students rotating across classroom and vocational routines, on a daily basis. It runs during regular school hours, utilizing district transportation, to and from district and community work sites. The class is divided into two groups; one group receives their functional academics while the other is receiving their vocational training, both eat lunch together and subsequently switch tasks. Prior to any student participating in their identified work experiences, instruction is given to emphasize those skills necessary for securing employment and participating in community activities.
The Pocono Mountain School to Work program is reliant on many facets of the community, including Tri-County Mental Health and Disability Services, East Stroudsburg University, Devereux Program and Services, Burnley Workshop of the Poconos, the Pennsylvania Office of Mental Retardation, the Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, CareerLink, and many others. Local participating businesses include Pocono Mountain School District, Sanofi Pasteur, Sodexo Food Services, Pocono Manor, Paradise Stream Resort, Hildebrandt Learning Center, Pocono Plateau, Pocono Mountain Ecumenical Food Pantry, Hillcrest Retirement Home, and others. The success of the School To Work Program is due to the support given by the Pocono Mountain School District school board, administration, teachers and staff, and of course the parents and students who participate in the program. These numerous and necessary collaborations make the vocational and independent living experiences the most realistic and useful for the students. The community will in turn benefit from the Pocono Mountain School to Work program graduating responsible and productive members into our society.