Life Skills vs. life skills

Students gain real life experiences by participating in the work world

Tanazia Deloney, Reporter

As she walks into the cafeteria she remembers she promised her friend that she would buy her a pack of Extra gum. She sees a student from the Life Skills Program with a supervisor waiting behind the counter, waiting for someone to purchase an item. She begins to wonder if they do anything outside of school.

It just so happens that these students do leave to do work in our community.

“In the high school vocational program, students participate in ‘job sampling’,” Life Skills coordinator Mary Ann Avery said. “They try a variety of jobs, such as restaurant, retail and cleaning positions. This allows them to know what kind of paid employment they would enjoy and build the needed skills to work with Vocational Rehabilitation as adults to secure paid employment.”

Members of the Life Skills Program may not be independent, they gain some independence by working in the community.

“Sometimes I figure out what needs to be done by myself,” member of the Adult Program and graduate of 2016 Kayleigh Jennings said.

They try their best to do what they can, but they have to have perseverance.

“I am doing the best I can do,” sophomore Clayton Jones said. “Not only as an employee but also as a student. I do everything that my job expects me to do.”

The staff of the Life Skills Program speak about their experiences working in the program.

“As with anyone, work gives us purpose and a sense of well-being,” Avery said. “Everyone likes to feel valued and that they are contributing to their community. Most students begin working in our vocational program with a job coach. As they become more comfortable and can meet the expectations at the job site, students work independently of the job coach.”

Like any other job, we must learn our positions and with the Life Skills program it is somewhat the same.

“Students learn basic skills, such as following directions and being accountable to authority,” Avery said. “As well as how to stock shelves, make change and a variety of other skills particular to each job site.”

Though some people have a variety of opinions, these students feel as if they’re just like any other person.

“I feel like everybody else, there is no difference to me,” Jones said. “[It] doesn’t really matter to me if I am different, I hold my head high because I am confident.”

These students want to be accepted regardless of their disabilities.

“I work at CVS and I help in the bookstore,” Jackson said. “They make me feel welcomed and accepted.”

Having a job comes with many positive outcomes.

“Sometimes I figure out what needs to be done by myself,” Jennings said. “I learn how to do things the correct way.”

These students have shown others that they are just like anybody else. They strive for the same goals just as many other students.

“Students in the Life Skills program are like the rest of us,” Avery said. “They are people who want financial security, the ability to exercise choices and lead a satisfying life.”

These students have received a lot of support from others, which has led them into the right direction.

“They need some extra support and a wider circle of friends to help them achieve their goals,” Avery said. “My students have a lot to offer an employer willing to work with their special abilities.”