(Pictured Left to Right: Emily Berheide, Danielle Pelletier. Ashley Seniti, Brendan Callahan & Sabrina Huether)
(Submitted by Jan Hollenbeck, OTD, OTR/L, Coordinator of Related Services, Secondary Transition, and Assistive Technology for the Medford Public Schools)
Student Ashley Seniti shared that the process of identifying her strengths and interests allowed her to seek out and participate in an internship that used one of her strengths – organizational skills – where she learned to organize toys and materials at Imagine Center for Community & Arts. Brendan Callahan used the process to identify and explore his career goal of running his own coffee shop business. Danielle Pelletier, Occupational Therapy Assistant shared that this strengths-based process has helped her to move beyond efforts to improve areas of deficit toward facilitating and developing areas of strength and interest when matching students with career and life possibilities.
Transition team members and Ms. Berheide shared several key elements in developing a student-centered transition program beginning with a “Discovering Talents Workshop” which included all involved school team members. This was a brainstorming session about each student’s strengths, talents and interests. Project Transition Teacher Sabrina Huether said she was “blown away by how many strengths the team came up with for each student!” Team members shared that the workshop got them excited about the possibilities and many career opportunities that they could now see for their students.
A second component in having a truly student-centered transition program was to put a class that solely focused on each student’s post-secondary vision into the weekly schedule. This class gave the opportunity to have weekly brainstorming sessions and conversations about next steps towards fulfilling the students’ visions.
A third component included mentoring sessions which involved a teacher or therapist meeting individually with a student or with a small group of students to work on individual action plans designed to move each student toward their post-secondary goals and vision.
Ms. Huether summed up the Student-Centered Planning process as “…an incredible process that has allowed staff and students to focus on each student’s strengths and interests while working toward their vision of life after high school”.