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North Union Mini Grant Update

College Photo April 2013 Visit

North Union MIni Grant – College Visit April 2013

North Union was awarded a mini-grant from Prairie Lakes AEA Transition Department, in cooperation with the SPDG grant, to broaden high school special education students and teachers perception of future career options and opportunities.  North Union High School applied and was granted two grants.  This is the story of how six students facilitated their own learning and decided to try and get a feel for a college campus using one of those grants.  Our visit and campus tour was to Iowa Lakes Community College S.A.V.E. Program on April 15th.  The students determined early on that they needed to get a firsthand look at the different buildings and departments. The tour was set up with ambassador students so real life questions could be asked and they could discover a taste of what life on the campus is actually like while school was in session.

Students were able to sit in on and visit classes in the discipline area they were considering as a field of study.  They were able to see how professors and students interacted with each other and how many students were in each classroom visited.  The most important question answered was how comfortable they felt in this new learning environment.

Students were able to see a few different dorm styles and able to eat meals in the cafeteria.  It was established early on that food was an important factor when considering a college.  This was going to be a place that you would be calling home for awhile and you needed to make sure you could stomach the meals.

The students felt like they saw the major highlights of the physical facility.  They were able to ask real live students what they thought of their school and enjoyed some good food.  The student’s final step in the campus-visit process was to discuss with their family what they saw, learned, and their overall impression of the college campus for future consideration.  A wealth of knowledge and foresight was obtained from the ILCC visit.  The students and teachers of North Union High School who attended thank the Prairie Lakes AEA for the mini-grant and the opportunity provided them.

For additional information, please contact Pam Hansen, from North Union High School.


Matching Skills to Jobs: Partners For A Strong Workforce

Exciting day at the 12th annual Association of Iowa Workforce Partners!  Great opportunity for our transition department!  Opportunities to hear top notch presenters, visit with representatives from programs and services that our students may potentially use or get involved with, and a chance to increase our knowledge about using social media as a tool in helping our transition/workforce development efforts.  Watch for more updates from the conference here in the future!


Humboldt High School Mini Grant Follow-Up!

Two teachers from the  Humboldt High School special education department utilized the Transition Department SPDG mini grant process to take 4 students on a trip to Mosaic in Clarion Iowa.  This was a first time visit for teachers Cassie Smith and Jill Meyer as well as several of the students.  The students had spent time in class time before going on the visit talking about the options that this program could provide students and transition planning for their future.  The students and teachers learned that Mosaic offers many post secondary opportunities  (after high school) that can benefit students in a great way.  Adults who utilize this program after high school can continue working on their transition skills, working skills, and social skills.

The Humboldt High School teachers noted that “it was great for the students and teachers to have the opportunity together to see the different facilities that students could possibly work at.”  They also noted that it also “allowed students to see that there are multiple opportunities for them”.    They concluded that it was a great experience and that they hope to continue to find opportunities to have their students explore different post secondary options that are available to them.

Thanks Cassie Smith and Jill Meyer for sharing your follow up with us!


Students-Thinking about a Summer Job? Get Busy Now!

Many times students express to their IEP team that they are planning on working during the summer but when we come back in the fall and ask how their summer jobs went we find out that they didn’t find a job!  Here’s some helpful tips toward successful summer employment:

1)  Get busy now!  The college students are on their way back home and soon the job market will have many more people looking for summer jobs!

2) Use your network….yes you do have a network!  Check with your family friends, parents employers, your local city offices, your church family, etc.   Finding a job sometimes does take a whole village!

3) Know your summer schedule before you start job hunting….if you know that you will be joining your family on a vacation in July make sure you are up front and honest about that….if you know that you will have to leave work every day by 2:00 pm for baseball or softball practice or games….share that too!  Employers don’t want surprises after they have hired you…..actually taking a schedule with you to a job interview is a mature and appropriate thing to do!

4) Know what your job expenses are going to be before accepting a job….will you need to pay for gas? Can you share a ride to and from work? Do you need to buy a uniform or specialized clothing?  Are there any tools needed?  If you know the costs that will occur in preparing for the job it will help you better understand the amount of money you can make from any given job.

5)  Look at non-traditional summer jobs!  Do you have a busy schedule this summer….could you work an early shift at a supermarket or help unload trucks on certain days?  How about being a dog sitter or walker- you might be able to fit that into your schedule!  If you are an early morning person check local bakeries stores…..that’s a time they are really busy.  How about working at a local nursing home home?  There are many jobs there you may not have thought about in the past…..some require additional training but some do not.  Don’t forget to check out summer camps….many times the wages at stay over camps aren’t the greatest but the benefits are good….usually your food and board and a stipend if you are counselor, if you are a day worker- a meal still might be included plus the opportunity to work in a fun environment.  Camp work is also a great way to see if you are really someone cut out to spend lots of time with children!  Besides work with youth, camps also have lots of maintenance type jobs that depending on your age you might be able to do.  Additionally there is kitchen help, life guards, etc.

6) Don’t forget volunteer work…maybe you really do have a very busy schedule with sports and camps this summer but you would still like to fit in a little job exploration or work exploration.  Check out volunteer opportunities at local food pantries, churches, public libraries, community rec programs, or  ask a friend, family member, or neighbor who has a job you are interested in if there is any way you can job shadow them for a day or a week?  Put your free time to work… will look great on your resume and also may help you make some career decisions!

With a little pre-planning you may be able to make this summer pay off in several ways… may be able to earn some spending money or college savings, explore career options that you are interested in or even ones you have never thought of, and you may also have the opportunity to practice all your “soft skills” or 21st Century Skills that you have been working on at school!  So get out there and explore your options!


Certainly doesn’t look like May??


Well, well, well… it’s hard to imagine that we are in the final countdown with our students when so many  schools were either LATE or CANCELLED altogether because of SNOW!  For those of you who can’t imagine, here is a pic of just some of the snow… (note:  the beautiful snow lined evergreens in the background!)   On the upside, we know that this will be gone as quickly as it came, and soon we will be complaining that it is too hot.

As we wind down the school year,  you are all busily finishing either the SAR or the Post-Secondary Summary for your graduating seniors.  If you have any questions about either of those forms, please let your transition coordinator  know!

It is also an important time to remind your juniors of things they can do to help them be prepared for their senior year.  Just of few of those are:

  • Visit colleges this summer.  Almost all colleges have “Senior Visit Days” already scheduled.  This is a great time to go and see different colleges to help narrow down the options.  Simply go to their website and see when they are! Most require the students to sign up online so they have a number count.  Students may also talk to your high school guidance counselor for more information on these summer dates.
  • If  your students are thinking about attending a community college, encourage them to apply NOW!  There are no application fees, and this is one less thing they need to do next fall.   This can easily be done online.
  • COMPASS test:  If they are considering attending a community college, they should take the COMPASS test, and remind them that this is a test they need to try their best on…. because it will determine what level of Math, English, and Writing courses they will begin with once they start college.
  • Review their schedules for next fall:  Are there any specific classes that your district offers which would help them attain their postsecondary goal?  Taking a challenging class in high school is much safer than taking it in a new college setting with unfamiliar instructors.

It is easy to get into the “we’re almost done” mode, but let’s continue to help our students be as prepared for that next step as possible, whether they will soon be graduating, or they will soon be starting their last year of high school.

Now, go out and make a snowman… it has GOT to be our last chance to do that this spring, right??