Roxbury High School’s unique student transition employment preparation program, also known as STEP, is providing students the opportunity to gain work-related skills and experience in a supervised environment.
This program allows students to start exploring career interests and developing job skills while still in high school. It is a work-based learning environment that allows students to gain career skills and knowledge through real life activities.
“It’s important for students to understand and practice soft skills, which refers to a cluster of personal qualities, habits, attitudes, and social graces that make someone a good employee and compatible to work with,” explained Birsen Mansur, special education teacher at the school.
In today’s competitive job market it is essential to possess relevant skills and experiences that will set individuals apart from everyone else.
“We’ve been fortunate at Roxbury with the amount of support from our local businesses and schools and the opportunities they provide our students to accomplish this goal,” said Mansur.
Pat Hovey, director of Special Services added, “There are multiple layers of impact realized while providing an opportunity for high school students to volunteer in a para-teaching capacity with younger students. When the students participating have a wide-range of disabilities the impact is exponential.
“For high school students, just beginning to understand the academic, social, and emotional involvement of their struggles, being able to guide, assist, and influence youngster’s builds self-esteem and helps them to understand their strengths more than concentrate on their weaknesses,” she adds. “The preschoolers look to the high school students with adoration. The smiles on the little one’s faces are eclipsed only by the smiles on the big kid faces.”
There is an inherent understanding that the high school students bring to the preschool classroom.
Hovey said “They have patience that originates from knowing that their style of learning is different than their peers. The high school students see the world through a different lens and are able to hold it up for the preschoolers to use. A personal connection through the grades creates a unique appreciation for the community and the school.”
STEP allows students to see opportunities for post-secondary transition goals and further explore a skill set needed in both educational and workforce environments.
“Students in both age sets learn to work with varied personalities and meet various needs,” said Hovey. “Creativity and problem solving are necessary to work with each other successfully. I think that this program connects not only the kids but the staff and the programs built from preschool to post-secondary transition readiness.”
Madison Chaplin, a senior at Roxbury High School currently participates in STEP volunteering with the preschool program at Jefferson Elementary School.
Patti Klein, the preschool teacher at Jefferson, said “Madison brings energy and enthusiasm to the preschool environment and the students just adore her.”
Madison said she “loves the kids and is always thrilled to see them.” It seems the preschoolers at Jefferson feel the same way.