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Education is preparing students for the future in every way possible. There is never a shortage of opportunity for the students to learn job-readiness skills in everyday activities while attending The Graham Academy. The school has an established curriculum to support its students in career development. Adding to that program consistently raises the bar of ambition for the students. The programs at the school help transition students to better understand their strengths to be successful after their time at the Graham Academy has ended.
The curriculum focuses on soft skills that include; leadership, teamwork, communication, problem solving, work ethic, adaptability, and interpersonal skills. The students get to practice these skills with ‘jobs’ within the school. A job list is created, and any student can sign up for that job once they are established with the Positive Behavior Support System. A time sheet is kept, and a specific task is given to the student to complete. Once the job is completed, the students receive a ‘paycheck’ they can then use at the student store.
The skills employers are looking for go beyond the soft skills. Interpersonal Skills are also needed, and those include; active listening, teamwork, responsibility, dependability, leadership, motivation, flexibility, patience, and empathy. As part of the transition program, the high school students prepare and participate in mock interviews from both in-house professionals as well as outside members of the community who come in to do another round of interviews. This allows the students to practice all the skills they have learned, soft and interpersonal. Feedback from all interviewees is then collected and worked on by the teachers with the students.
Part of the mock interview process is creating the students Graham Career Portfolio’s and resume building. In detail, students are asked to talk about themselves and why
they would be great for the job of their choice. Answers to questions about personal strengths and weaknesses, or the process of self-reflection, often helps the student find an area of focus in the workforce. The desired career paths then may require a look into post-secondary education or a vocational program. The insight and results from the interview process help the student identify what they would need to work on to pursue their career goals.
The Graham Academy culture is very ambitious in setting goals for its students. Many of the students already have jobs through partnerships with the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) and the Luzerne Intermediate Unit (LIU). Both organizations offer transition specialists to help the students with jobs outside of the school, complete with a job coach. The Graham Academy looks forward to seeing all its students thrive in the work force. The mission of the school is to educate students living with autism and students living with emotional challenges to excel in life through communication, exploration, opportunity, acceptance, accountability, and ambition. For more information on the school, employment opportunities, or to schedule a tour, visit the website at www.thegrahamacademy.com.