IU13 Outlook July 2015 Issue

Amazing Business Partnerships,
Amazing Results

Brandon and Monica

Preparing students with disabilities for life after school takes a great team, and IU13 students benefit from the efforts of many valuable local partners in the process.

In fact, students in IU13’s Work Immersion Program have benefited from the efforts of two employees from Willow Valley Communities who were recently honored by LeadingAge PA, an association of nonprofit senior services providers. Honorees Bob Rush, Director of Human Resources, and Patty Pasquino, Recruitment Coordinator, are two exceptional businesspeople who received this recognition for their innovative programming and support of students with disabilities in the IU13 Willow Valley Work Immersion Program.

“Willow Valley has been an amazing partner for this program,” commented Gina Guatta who supervises the IU13 Willow Valley Work Immersion Program. “The goal of our program is to teach our students valuable job skills and a strong work ethic. But we know the value of real ‘hands-on’ learning, and are grateful to people such as Bob and Patty who make it a priority to support our students. It makes a world of difference for the students who graduate from the program knowing they can make it happen.”

How does the IU13 Willow Valley Work Immersion Program work? The program provides students with disabilities with a variety of internships in areas such as food prep, hosting/serving, maintenance, groundskeeping, etc. The students attend school at the work site, where a team of teachers, job trainers, and employees supports them during the school year. By the time the students complete their varied internships, they have experienced a unique mix of job training and life skills development. 

IU13 also operates two similar programs at local hospitals – Project SEARCH at Lancaster General Hospital (Lancaster, PA) and Project SEARCH at Lebanon VA Hospital (Lebanon, PA). The Project SEARCH program, which was developed at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, is generally enveloped in a medical field.

Students in these three programs (Willow Valley Work Immersion Program, and Project SEARCH at Lancaster General Hospital and Lebanon VA Hospital) are generally in their final year of schooling. They attend classes and do internships/work rotations at the specific site – immersing them into the work environment where they can learn and work alongside colleagues/adults. “These settings are very ‘hands-on.’ The students spend most of their day working with other staff members, which requires them to exercise effective job skills and social skills,” commented Guatta.

Each year, over 700 businesses in Lancaster and Lebanon counties partner with IU13 to provide students with work-based experiences in these and other programs. Through the variety of IU13 school-business partnerships, local businesses have provided students with jobs such as stuffing 100,000+ fundraiser packets, repainting a building, or working with the municipality on a beautification project. These are projects interwoven into the classroom lessons/activities. Sometimes it’s routine work that happens weekly, monthly, or annually, while other times it’s a once-and-done task.

“These employers open their doors and greet our students with a smile and patience,” commented Guatta. “They show kindness and understanding to our students and often express that it’s ‘one of the best parts of their job.’ And for that we are incredibly grateful!”

To learn more, we invite you to ‘meet’ Monica and Brandon. Both students participated in the Willow Valley Work Immersion Program, and exemplified the successful outcome of this amazing business partnership. 

MonicaMonica: Manheim Central High School graduate

Monica spent her senior year interning with the dining services department - learning how to break down tables, clean dishes, and serve customers. As she describes her work, her passion is apparent, “I work in the back until lunch. Then I change into Country Kitchen attire… I like talking to the residents and making them feel welcome.” This is a big accomplishment for Monica, but she credits her success to the job trainers and teachers who pushed her to keep going.

BrandonBrandon: Hempfield School District graduate

Brandon experienced success with the program in maintenance. With the help of Roy, maintenance supervisor, Brandon completed work orders for residents and tackled various jobs around the facility. Brandon, who has a smile that goes from ear to ear, explained that he enjoys meeting people and learning new things.

Is your business interested in learning more about partnering with IU13? Please contact us at specialeducation@iu13.org or call 717-606-1738.

Explore IU13 Outlook July 2015 Issue