North Union special education teacher Mary Gelhaus utilized the SPDG grant money to take 4 students and their para educators on a tour of Echo Plus in Estherville and in Spirit Lake and Horizons Unlimited in Emmetsburg with its connection to Project Learning on the Iowa Lakes Community College campus.
This grant made it possible to broaden her students’ perception of future career options and opportunities for meaningful employment as they visited 3 work activity centers and 2 thrift stores. Mary also felt that it did broaden her knowledge of the diversity of services within and out of the area. Each work activity center and thrift store had its own unique system. She was able to gain perceptions of the strengths of each program by visually connecting to a site, and she had valuable discussions with work activity directors/day program directors, supervisors. Mary stated, “the chance for on-site discussions and tour was invaluable as it gave me ideas to incorporate into my classroom and skills, both employment and living skills, to teach my students while in high school in order to better prepare them for the transition to life beyond high school.”
By visiting Project Learning on Iowa Lakes Community College campus, they experienced a collaborative program between an organization for adults with disabilities (Horizons Unlimited) and the community college on a college campus setting. Project Learning showed her students that there is a possibility of participation in some college campus activities.
Not only did the students experience employment opportunities but also leisure activities by touring 2 day habilitation programs and the Iowa Lakes Wellness Center and library. In addition, the students were given a chance to practice money skills, functional reading of signs and menus, and social skills.
Returning to their classroom, Mary and her students had some excellent career discussions. Not only did they discuss what they had seen, but also what jobs would they like to do or not do. Why or why not?
With this grant, Mary and her students could focus on what is possible rather than what is probable.
For more information contact Mary Gelhaus