At Bellevue School District, our teachers, para educators and staff work tirelessly each day to serve our students by providing relevant education that is innovative and individualized. This October, as we honor Disability History and Awareness Month and National Disability Employment Awareness Month, we highlight the students, staff and families who embrace this individualized approach to education as part of the Evergreen Transition Program.
The Evergreen Transition Program provides experiential learning opportunities through community-based instruction for young adults with disabilities ages 18-21, to foster independence in the post-secondary areas of: Employment, Education/Training and Independent Living Skills. Its vision is to recognize each student’s unique strengths and abilities while allowing them to make decisions through self-determination. Through partnership with students, families, caregivers, community organizations, state agencies and employment vendors, the program supports and empowers young adults to prepare for a successful future.
Bridging the gap between school and adulthood
Responsive to the needs of each participant, the program recognizes that the challenges associated with transitioning into adulthood can be overwhelming. To prepare for this transition, young adults work on strengthening their abilities during the final years of school to expand possibilities across all settings. By working on a variety of real-life skills, the goal is for participants to leave more prepared and independent than when they first arrived.
Program Coordinator, Jennifer Strehle, said of the Evergreen Transition Program:
“I love being able to work with these young adults in their final years of school. The students really enjoy going out into the community, working with a variety of businesses, and interacting with the public. It boosts their self-confidence to know they are respected, valued members on a team.”
Student Spotlight: Q&A with Tim Robinson
Tim Robinson is in his second year with the Evergreen Transition Program and recently started a job at the Cougar Mountain Zoo. He answered a few of our questions about his experience in the program and at his new job.
What do you like about the Evergreen Transition Program?
I get to learn new things. I can see my friends and staff members. I get to meet lots of new people. I think going on field trips is fun.
What are some things you’ve learned from it?
We have been doing money skills, job skills and life skills. I also like the student council meetings. We get to learn things about each other, and we have slide shows.
Tell us about your new job at the Cougar Mountain Zoo. What was the application process like?
It was hard. I filled out the application paper and had my resume with me. Then I had a job interview where I answered lots of questions. But I was so happy when they told me I got the job. I love going to the zoo.
How did your teacher, para educator and/or other support staff help prepare you for the job?
They helped me practice applications and job interviews. We practiced with cards that had questions on them.
What sorts of things do you do at your job?
I sweep, open the table umbrellas, cut apples for the animals, and take out trash. I also get to trim bushes and learn to feed the animals.
What do you enjoy most about working there?
I get to be around animals and new people. And I get to learn how to take care of animals and how to feed them. They have reindeer there.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Evergreen is a lot of fun. They do a lot with clubs and activities. They have a talent show. The teachers are fun and helpful. They have been very good at helping people find jobs.
When asked about the program from a parent’s perspective, Shawnna Robinson, Tim’s mother, shared:
“Our family is new to the district after a move from out of state. By far, the Evergreen Transition Program has provided Tim with the most support and success he has had preparing for adulthood. The staff is encouraging, resourceful and optimistic. The guidance we have received as caregivers for our young adult has been immeasurable. The assistance we were offered with connections to DDA, DVR, AtWork! and SSI helped alleviate any feelings of being overwhelmed. We have a confidence we did not have prior to our engagement with this program and we have hope for our son as he navigates into adulthood.”
Partner with the Evergreen Transition Program
Interested in partnering with the program? The Evergreen Transition Program is growing and is in search of connections to local businesses who may want to partner in providing meaningful volunteer experience for young adults. Contact Jennifer Strehle, Program Coordinator to learn more and get involved.