Our mission is for all students to become independent, productive, contributing members of their communities, to their fullest ability. Our program is designed to support students in achieving this goal.
The staff at VSSD is committed to working with teachers, staff, students, and families in making this mission a reality.
A Message from the Coordinator
The goal of Vocational Services for Students with Disabilities (VSSD ) is to assist students to enter the world of work and to help students become productive members of their communities. Through the sequential programming of community skills and employment exploration for students with severe disabilities to job placement for students with mild disabilities, students are better prepared to live more fulfilling lives. Transition planning is the connecting bridge which allows students to take the skills they learned in our programs and move into adult life.
We at VSSD work with students, parents, teachers, staff, and administrators to support our students. We encourage you to attend the many workshops we offer and to call us whenever we can be of assistance.
Glenn E. Mitchell, Coordinator
Vocational Services for Students with Disabilities
Student Support Unit-Special Education
The Community Skills program is a curriculum that addresses functional programming and focuses on providing instruction in life skills. The goal of the Community Skills Program is to provide opportunities for students to develop the skills that will enable them to live in the community as independently as possible.
Students with moderate to severe disabilities, autism, multiple disabilities, and students who are on alternate assessment may participate in the Community Skills Program.
Once it is determined that a student has qualified for the Community Skills Program, and that he/she would benefit from a functional program curriculum, a parental consent form is obtained. The teacher is then trained by the Community Skills Trainer. Once the teacher is trained, he/she will first provide the student with instruction in the classroom, and then extend the instruction into the community.
Students of elementary school age learn activities and skills within five basic instructional domains: a) personal management, b) academics, c) school responsibilities, d) neighborhood, and e) recreation. At this level, students receive instruction that will lead them to become self-sufficient in environments such as grocery stores, bakeries, drug and convenience stores, to name a few.
As students approach middle and high school ages, domains change to emphasize vocational training with an emphasis on related skills training in the areas of personal management, community and recreation/leisure. At this level, students receive instruction that will help them acquire skills for independence in environments such as malls, parks, post offices, restaurants, barber/beauty shops, and taxis. Instruction for recreation/leisure activities takes places in public libraries, theaters, bowling alleys, and parks. Teaching materials such as games, video and audio equipment, books, magazines, and newspapers, are a few of the resources utilized in the recreation/leisure domain.
The Employment Exploration program provides Special Education Students the opportunity to experience working in a variety of local community businesses, while receiving the individualized levels of support needed for growth and success.
Accomplishing this Mission
- Takes local business participation and support
- Takes parental support and understanding
- Takes school system funding and support
- Takes job trainer outreach and organization
- Takes teacher dedication and creativity
- Takes student interest and participation
Meeting all of the above criteria is essential to having a program that fulfills students’ needs for present and future success.
How the Program Works
Over the course of a student’s high school career, he/she receives training in a variety of short-term non-paid job sites located throughout the community. Special education teachers, in the role of job trainer specialist, develop the individual training sites. The job trainers network with businesses to establish their support and understanding of the programs needs and goals. Each job site reflects a series of different skill clusters to offer a diverse set of work experiences as a student rotates through the sites, (usually two or more each year). Throughout the school year the teacher supervises the job experiences on a weekly basis. The teacher uses the job setting to develop and reinforce work skills, attitudes and behaviors, as well as provide useful evaluation information for future vocational planning.
As the student enters into the transitional phase of high school to adulthood, the instructional team considers post-school vocational options. Decisions based on the student/family choices and preferences for post-school vocational and living environments, opportunities within the local community and the student’s training history are supported and documented by the participation profile the program provides of the student’s competencies as they relate to specific employment areas and support needs after graduation.
Students exit school with an Employment Exploration job resume listing their individual job experiences, their strengths and interest, along with a linkage to adult agencies that can offer needed supports. More importantly students leave with a level of experiences that afford them self-confidence in their abilities and strengths and an understanding of working in the real world setting.
Work Study Program
One of the goals of our society is to allow and encourage citizens to be involved in gainful employment. To that end, the Special Programs Department, through the Work Study Program, offers job placement assistance to qualified students in the Alternative Program. Job placement assistance encompasses a full cascade of services from direct placement on job, to referral to an adult service agency for post-secondary vocational training prior to actual job placement.
The Work Study Program is designed to provide services in the form of assessment, training, placement and referrals. These services are offered to students with mild disabilities for the purpose of obtaining employment in the competitive job market upon exiting the school system.
The transition from school to post-school options is difficult for all students. Students with disabilities face even greater challenges. The goal of education is to prepare student to live, work, and recreate in integrated community setting. To reach this goal, students, their families, schools, and community agencies work together to identify instructional programs, areas of responsibilities, and linkages necessary to meet the transition needs of exiting students with disabilities.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), P.L.105-17, defines transition as a coordinated set of activities for a student with a disability that:
(a) Is designed within an outcome-oriented process, which promotes movement from school to post-school activities, including post-secondary, vocational training, integrated employment (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services independent living, or community participation;
(b) Is based upon the individual student’s needs taking into account the student’s preferences and interests;
(c) Includes instruction, related services, community experiences, the development of employment and other post-school adult living objectives, and, when appropriate, acquisition of daily living skills and functional vocational evaluation.
Put more simply, transition for students with disabilities means moving from one state in life to another (e.g., high school activities to adult life activities). Transition involves establishing a planning process that includes a coordinated set of supportive activities that will prepare students with disabilities to more successfully live their adult life.
Post Secondary Classes
The Special Programs Department of the Jefferson Parish Public School System developed two post-secondary programs as an alternative to the more traditional high school programming. The goal of this program is to enhance the inclusion of young adults’ ages 19 -21 in age appropriate, integrated social and educational activities while promoting the process of transition from school to adult life.
Specific topics related to the alternative post-secondary sites follow.
Instruction focuses on an activity based approach to curriculum development and is based on student and family preference and the attainment of individual student outcomes upon exiting Jefferson Parish Public Schools. Students engage in off campus community based training activities including Employment Exploration and when appropriate, have access to selected course offerings available at the Technical Colleges. Enrollment in vocational courses is negotiated on an individual basis and is intended to promote inclusion in the instructional setting. Students will not receive certification in any vocational area as a result of their participation. Teachers are responsible for the implementation of all federally mandated regulations regarding Individual Education Plans (IEPs), referrals reevaluations, etc.
STUDENT IDENTIFICATION AND SELECTION:
The office of Vocational Services for Students with Disabilities (VSSD) notifies families and prospective students with significant disabilities of the opportunity to become acquainted with the post-secondary placement option through an annual open enrollment letter. Interested families are invited to attend an informational meeting hosted by the Vocational Services for Students with Disabilities department. Specific issues related to enrollment (including limits on class size and selection criteria) are addressed at that time. To make best use of transition time students are selected based on minimum age of 19 and appropriateness of placement.
Student schedules are designed to correspond with student needs and preferences and include both on campus and off campus activities.
Teachers and students follow the current Jefferson Parish Public School System calendar.