Through the Department of Rehabilitation, the Milpitas Unified School District (MUSD) runs a summer Transition Partnership Program (TPP), through which special education students go out and work in the community.
This year, 23 students, ages 16-18, were involved with TPP.
The program started on July 8 and officially wrapped up on July 26.
MUSD’s Vocational Specialist Annette Rodarte, along with her staff of three, spent the last few weeks facilitating the program, and even worked to train students in soft skills like communication, professionalism, and teamwork.
The students in the program were divided into two groups — Group A and Group B.
In the beginning, Group A students, whose disabilities were less severe, were taught how to use the bus. They received a bus pass and also work clothes, paid for by the TPP.
Working from Monday to Friday at places like Big Al’s, Walgreens, Kaman’s Art, Poke Supreme, Grocery Outlet, and the City of San Jose, Group A students received work experience that challenged and evolved them.
Students were also evaluated by both employers and staff, and even completed their own self-evaluations.
"There was a handful of students who were offered permanent positions,” said Rodarte. “Also, employers commented that our students had great work ethic, even better than some of their regular employees.” Rodarte has worked in her field for 27 years. She first started out at the Eastside Union High School district, where she was for a total of 17 years. For the past decade, she’s been with MUSD.
“I love what I do,” said Rodarte.
Group B’s students had more severe disabilities and required 100% job coaching. A staff member made sure to be present during the students’ work experience, to support them with whatever they needed. B students love repetition, are very dependable, and like schedules. Since Goodwill is great when it comes to training and working with disabled individuals, it offered a terrific learning space for Group B students to get acclimated to working. Along with Goodwill, Group B students worked at Bounce-a-Rama, Walgreens, and Kaman Arts.
Group B students received no training on using public transportation, as staff actually drove them to their places of employment. This was the first year the program allowed for Group B students to participate — six of them in total.
During the regular school year, Rodarte and her team, which consists of two job developers and one transition assistant, continue to carry out their work, training students across various workshops. In general, they work with students from the 9th grade all the way up to 22 years of age, supporting them in things like self-advocacy skills and interviewing, and even taking them on field trips to places like community colleges. “And in the end, we do a career fair to wrap everything up,” said Rodarte. “The students introduce themselves and practice what they’ve learned.”
Workability, a grant offered through a state program, is a support service, highlighting areas such as work-based learning, work preparation, and collaboration. The TTP program is one of the programs that receives support from Workability.
"I always love a challenge,” said Rodarte. “And I know that these students, they can work. It’s just figuring out how to break down the tasks for them. And also, how to inform our community about them, so that they give them a chance and let them try.”
At MUSD, we’re focused on providing opportunities to engage students in ways that will grow them socially, emotionally, and academically. We’re proud to embrace programs that support our special education students in reaching their fullest potential.