Rhinelander High School Rhinelander, WI

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The “Hodags”

One of the clear strengths of the Rhinelander High School’s LGTW team is their ongoing outreach to the local community. The relationships built through years of community involvement by special educators and students at the high school have yielded a variety of opportunities for students with disabilities to explore career options, gain employment skills, and work. Slumberland Furniture, the Rhinelander Animal Shelter, and the Rhinelander Public Library regularly provide work experiences for students.  Local employers that have also hired youth in transition from RHS include:  Roman Cinema, the Best Western Hotel, Trigs Grocery, the Goodwill Retail Store, and Oneida County Invasive Species.   Teachers continue to make connections and seek options for students.  The local bowling alley and restaurant is considering offering work experience trials for students after a grant team member reached out to that business.  Students are also seeking their own opportunities.  One student took the initiative to sign up for a school-wide career exploration day and got to have a visit and job shadow a local vet clinic with general education students.

During the school year students at Rhinelander High School have the opportunity to attend life and work skill classes offered through Nicolet College. Although the classes have been open only to students with disabilities up to this point, the idea of making the classes open to students without disabilities also has been discussed and will continue to be explored.

The grant team held a Community Conversation breakfast for  25-30 people, including students, parents, employers, adult service agency staff, and school staff. Students created posters about their post-school and employment aspirations and displayed them for attendees.  The contact with Oneida County Invasive species was made through advertising of the Community Conversation.

This summer in Rhinelander cool stuff is happening!

Environmental Education and Work with Oneida County Aquatic Invasive Species

As a result of the contact and interest from Oneida County Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS), one special educator is teaming up with the Environmental Science teacher to have students write a blog for the county about invasive species.  Students started a work experience this spring at AIS, and two students are being paid to work this summer at boat landings, checking boats for invasive species and handing out educational material.

Other students who have expressed an interest in careers helping animals will have the opportunity to work with Drs. Foster and Smith at a pet supply company very soon…

This summer the teachers at Rhinelander are piloting a summer session of the “World of Work.” Students will prepare for work doing informational interviews, job shadows, and receiving soft skill instruction.

Giving back to the community at Mel’s Trading Post

Students are gaining valuable work experience at area businesses, and they are also giving back to the community in the bike recycle program through Mel’s Trading Post called Changing Gears.  Students with and without disabilities repair bikes at Mel’s, and then the bikes are given away to people who need them. Students have the opportunity to learn job skills and earn service learning credits alongside their classmates. Changing Gears has been in the press this summer, and the greater community is getting involved. This fall, teacher Shelley Lehman along with a group of students will speak at the Kiwanis Club lunch for the official launch of the program. Channel 7  (Wausau) interviewed Shelley, Mitch (a mentor mechanic) and some of the student mechanics at Mel’s. For a story about Changing Gears, go to http://www.wsaw.com/home/headlines/Changing-Gears-Provides-Wheels-for-the-Road-217469291.html?device=tablet#.Ufcy7Ur1wJc.email

Working at Goodwill Industries Retail Store

David, a student in the grant, now has a job at Goodwill stocking in different departments.  Several other grant students have been able to gain retail skills through the paid training program at the same store during the past year.

Summer Professional Development

Tracy Hoffhein, Lynn Linteruer and Shelley Lehman attended Discovery Training in July and are working on ways to include the curriculum into their classes as well as possible activities to offer after school. Increasing the capacity of the job coaching team at Changing Gears and at Aquatic Invasive Species is also keeping the grant team busy.

Teachers from RHS also visited area businesses and have added several to their list of employers for the fall:

  • Rennes Assisted Living will welcomes school staff for an informational tour.
  • Trigs Grocery where Shelley is going to train this summer to be a bagger.  Store management felt that the best way to introduce students to new positions would be to train the teacher for each job position, and in turn the teacher could more easily train the students.  Look for Shelley at Trigs in August!
  • Oneida County Food Pantry will welcome Tracy for a business tour.
  • Central School will be back as an employer.
  • Oneida County AIS will have additional positions for students.
  • Mel’s Sporting Goods found the Changing Gears program so successful that they will open up more positions for students.

Within the school building:

  •  Hodag Copy Cats will provide mail service to teachers.
  • The coffee program is set to expand.

In the fall the team also plans to document their successes and use technology to support students at work.  Mini-iPads and flip cameras will be used to help with job coaching and training students on the job.  They are considering creating a flyer and a commercial to keep the momentum building.