What makes Deron different?
In our ongoing series about What Makes The Deron School different, (as well as special), we are focusing on the Transition and Bridge Program in this newsletter.
To help us with that background, we spoke with Patty Schmid, Transition Coordinator at Deron. Patty has been at Deron since 1994, starting as the plant and science teacher.
She moved to being the transition teacher about 10 years ago and eventually into the coordinator position two years ago. Initially focusing on work readiness and job applications with students, she recalls the early days of the program when she would walk across the street to the local businesses to enroll them as partnering work sites. There has been incredible growth in the program since then.
To provide context, Structured Learning Experiences (SLE) are mandated by the state and any student diagnosed with special needs has to be exposed to work. At Deron, exposure begins with Community Based Instruction for students as young as age 5 and increases each year. At the age of 16 they work with a job coach and begin learning employment skills at an actual off campus job site. Currently, Deron partners with 17-18 job sites providing opportunities for employment training mostly in the food service, maintenance and retail sectors.
Where do students work?
Some of our job sites include Amazing Savings, Walgreens, Daughters of Israel, a local laundromat Grove Pharmacy, Shop Rite (dairy, bakery, bagging, produce), and Victor’s Chateau in Little Falls where students set up for banquets. 5 students work in food service at St. Thomas School in Bloomfield where they serve lunch, and 2 students who are almost ready to graduate shadow workers in Liberty Science Center’s lab and demo’s.
What does the Bridge Program do?
We started the Bridge Program for 18-21 year olds about 8 years ago. As its name implies, it was conceived to “bridge the gap between high school and real life.” This community-based instruction (CBI) programming and learning style is highly effective and teaches life long skills that our students can apply after they graduate at 21.
What students are in this program?
Some of our students have been with us for many years and have moved directly into the Bridge program once they completed their high school requirements. Some students come from other schools specifically for the Bridge program. This is initiated by their home districts or through parents when the student has not had the advantage of participating in this kind of learning.
How many students are in this program?
We currently we have four classes dedicated to the Bridge Program serving 39 students. It has been a large part of what has made The Deron School different, as well as successful. For questions about the Transition & Bridge Programs, please contact Lori Alter at (908) 206-0444 or email LAlter@deronschool.org.