New Auburn may be small, but the healthy snack cart, staffed by students from the Let’s Get to Work grant and their peers, has been a huge success. The enterprise, which is a collaboration of several staff and students, has turned a profit of over $500, which students decided to use to create a scholarship fund for a student with a disability.
Students were responsible for creating the logo, developing a price list and spreadsheets of sales, and soliciting donations from various businesses to offset costs. In return they receive a hands-on business education and course credit through the Business Education and English departments.
Recently, the team presented at the New Auburn Economic Development Meeting. Their presentation was given at Citizen’s Telephone Cooperative of New Auburn which served as the meeting site. Presenters highlighted the purpose of the grant along with a summary of options on how businesses can become involved in the employment of students with special needs. Alissa Kohli, Workforce Development Representative, was in attendance to answer questions in regard to Workforce Development Resources.
A brief, but detailed overview was given, relating the progress and impact of the grant. New Auburn students connected to the “Let’s Get to Work Grant” assisted with the presentation and reinforced the high-impacting difference even small steps can make. All of the Let’s Get to Work Grant team members value the opportunity to share their Let’s Get to Work Grant initiative and encourage business owner’s to help make a world of difference in the lives of special need students.
New Auburn’s Community Conversation to raise awareness about the employment of youth with disabilities in the community was so successful, the team followed it up with a formal employer dinner. Employers were on hand to enjoy a nice dinner with students and provide mock interviews and feedback to help students prepare for the workforce.
With the assistance of Workforce Resources, Shay got a paid work experience at Playcare Childcare Center. Shay worked 3.5 hours/day, 5 days /week. Her boss, Becky Fisher, is very enthusiastic about Shay’s contributions at Playcare. She feels that she has a great future in the childcare industry. During the work experience, Shay’s responsibilities included playing games, reading books, and doing crafts with the children. She was their “extra hand,” helping with shoes and washing hands, especially during busy transition times. She was a model employee and was always asking if there was something more that she could do. Becky, Shay’s employer and owner of Playcare Childcare, spoke very highly of Shay’s creativity, “she had a lot of imagination to share with the kids and showed that in her work! One of the greatest things that Shay did for the children was to make them great hand-made birthday cards. She is very artistic, so she would make the cards very specific to the child and have a great message for them inside as well! She had several ideas that she brought into the center and we allowed her to do those crafts with the children as well.” Although Becky wasn’t able to hire Shay permanently, she highly recommends Shay for a job in the childcare industry and wants to help her find that job after she graduates.
Participation in the grant is opening doors for Trygve. Trygve’s team has begun meeting to implement a plan for Discovery and exploration. Since he does not use words to communicate, his team recognizes that it will be important to use thoughtful observation and creativity to help him with his employment plan. Trygve works at the healthy snack cart with his peers and is experimenting with other jobs around school. Even though Trygve is only a sophomore, he and his team are starting to consider his employment options after high school. Using Discovery will help his team identify his skills, interests and vocational themes so that in the fall Trygve will have more employment experiences in school and in the community. He is looking forward to Getting to Work!