A state grant is helping special needs students with work experience.
At Soddy-Daisy High School in Tennessee, special needs students participate in work based learning so they can gain real life job experience, while they are still in school. The program is funded in part by $80,000 grant from the Tennessee Department of Education.
This year, work-based coordinator for exceptional education students at Soddy-Daisy High School Cheryl McClendon watched one of her students gain experience working in a school cafeteria. "He helped with things like directing students to the ketchup and helping kids with opening milk cartons," McClendon said. "And a lot of the little guys at the school really started looking up to him like a big brother."
McClendon said that the skills the student gained include confidence and social skills, but also he may have the reputation as a worker so that he could have a full time job after graduation.
"The whole work-based program gives [students] exposure to life outside what their families may have ever thought they could do," McClendon said.