Meet David, a confident 21-year-old with a steady job and a positive attitude that can largely be attributed to his time at District 203’s Connections Program.
“When I am here I just feel happy because something is new everyday. The teachers are hilarious and my friends are something to expect, and there is nothing that can take that away from me,” said David Moreno, a participant in the Program.
The transitional education center aims to prepare 203 students ages 18-22, especially those with special needs, into a life where they can work, live and be active members of the community.
“The ultimate goal is to provide a seamless transition for these students to their adult life. Whatever they decide that adult life is going to look like our goal is to support that and have them enter adult life without that fear,” said Bonnie Osborne, Assistant Director of Student Services with the Connections Program.
Students start their day in the classroom, learning how to communicate and problem solve in a job setting before going out into the community to apply what they learn at one of the over 50 local businesses who partner with the program.
“I go out to all the job sites and work with the students on gaining skills and let’s say a student is a server, not just the job skills but the soft skills like interacting with co-workers,” said Joey Cantu, a Vocational Studies Teacher.
A perfect example of how the program works is 20 year old, Michelle, who in addition to her jobs at Center stage, Aurelio’s and Walgreens is also an active member of the community, recently participating in the Naperville Junior Women’s Club Fashion Show.
“I walked in a fashion show and it was a lot of fun,” said Michelle Anderson.
Once the students are finished with the program they are ready to take on the world.
“Things I have applied to be very independent, things aren’t given to us, things are not going to come your way, you have to earn it.” said David Moreno.
Transitional programs have been a part of the district for years, however Connections has been at their 5th Avenue location for the past five years.
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