Program Matches Special Needs Students with a Job

Metea’s Vocational Program

Metea Valley High School and Tabor Hills Supportive Living Community have been partners in a unique program for 10 years.

The high school’s vocational program matches special needs students with a job.

“At the beginning of the school year we let the kids decide and we talk through what the job sites are and then work to balance those with what their ultimate post-secondary employment outcomes are,” said Sarah Stoodley, vocational coordinator at Metea.

They hope the entry-level employment skills they learn through the program will help the students find a job after graduation.

Working at Tabor Hills

The students are out in the community three times a week, working 45 minute to one-hour shifts at different businesses all school year.

One of those workplaces is Tabor Hills.

“As a not-for-profit community there isn’t a lot that we have an opportunity to give back to the community at large,” said Tabor Hills administrator Laura Weren. “And when we started this partnership, the wonderful things that we felt and that we knew we were offering to the students a place to learn job skill training, it just became a win-win for everybody.”

The five students working at Tabor Hills this year are assigned to the dining room where they do different tasks including wiping down tables, cleaning up dishes, and setting the tables.

Working After Graduation

And the work doesn’t stop there. Tabor Hills hires qualifying students to join their team after they graduate.

Emily Dengelo worked at the supportive living center for two years while she was at Metea, and now has a part-time job with them.

“I like working here because I like to see all my favorite co-workers and friends with them around me and the people around talk to me and I talk to them back,” said Deangelo.

The partnership has been a success for all these years, but the most rewarding aspect for Stoodley is helping her students.

“Having a job to go to for a couple days a week is beyond fulfilling and just goes to show that anyone is able to work given the right supports and services,” said Stoodley.

Naperville News 17’s Aysha Ashley Househ reports.

 

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