Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A Place for Transition, Employment and Life Skills

A daily activity list for Madonna School Transition students includes work tasks, cooking, cleaning, functional academics, and contract work. Each item on this list is then individualized for each student. Pairs of three to four students work together for hour increments and then switch groups. The students complete these activities within the classroom, throughout the campus, and in the community.

In the not too distant past, the home base for all this planning, learning, coming and going was a small, one-room portable that sat near the school’s playground. For five years, multiple teachers, job coaches, and nearly 15 students enlivened the former Transition room with learning and laughter. Not surprisingly, after five years, the program outgrew this small space.

With the help of exceptional grant writing, generous giving, and a large group of helping hands, the Transition program of the Madonna School is now happily located inside a new wing of the building with a six-room facility. This wing operates with much more than simply a classroom. In it, students are able to utilize a full kitchen, practice bedroom, and workroom. The facility is also equipped with two bathrooms, an office, and an additional workstation that can be closed off with sliding walls.

Transition students are thriving in this new environment.

The main classroom holds up to twenty student desks plus five computer stations. A full kitchen enables the students to practice cooking on a stovetop, using an oven or microwave, clean dishes, run a dishwasher, and use a variety of small kitchen appliances. The learning apartment contains a bed, closet, dresser, and bathroom with shower. Students learn to make a bed, fold and put away clothes, and maintain a bathroom. The workroom is designed for coffee grinding and packaging, one of the student run businesses of the Madonna School, as well as specifically designed work task boxes. Students are also responsible for using the workroom’s washer and dryer to supply the school with clean towels and washrags.

This newly expanded facility is in good timing with a further expanding enrollment for the Madonna School. Over the past two years, Madonna has become a service provider for the State of Nebraska. Students graduating from the Madonna Transition Program, as well as other eligible individuals from the community, are now able to become part of a special Employment Services Program.

Employment Services

The employment program is also fulfilled by the staff of the Transition Program, and uses the new facility as its home base. The young adults enrolled in the program learn necessary job seeking and interview skills and, once employed, are job coached until they become independent in their work tasks.

With such a great variety of learning, it is a blessing that the individuals involved in the Madonna Transition Program and Employment Services Program now have ample space to fulfill their important tasks. While a great deal of experiences still occur in the community, a home base that allows for five or more separate groups of students to simultaneously operate is an integral addition to the Madonna School.

From humble beginnings to this modern facility, the Transition Program and Employment Services Program echo the mission that was started many years ago by Sister Mary Evangeline. Because of this new wing, the future is particularly bright for Madonna and its exceptional students.

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