Careers and college goals for exceptional students are attainable, with the help of a special program which enables these students to beat the odds.
Skai Correa, 19, trained for her first day on the job at the opening of Oasis Cafe, as she carefully sprayed whipped cream on a coffee drink, and drizzled chocolate sauce on the top. When her supervisor Quinwun “Q” Williams smiled and approved, they high fived a celebration of another great tasting beverage that Skai made.
The Oasis Cafe is a coffee and sandwich shop where high school seniors and recent grads with disabilities from Clarksville-Montgomery County receive on the job training in food preparation. They learn the basics of preparing the food, and customer service. It may not seem like much but for Skai it is proof that she has beat the odds with her first job.
Skai was diagnosed with autism and pervasive developmental disorder. When she graduated from Kenwood High School this year, that was already an achievement that was beyond what had been predicted for her. Neurologists believed that she would spend her life in a vegetative state, and for her first three years, she communicated only non verbally through screaming.
“She was a totally nonverbal child,” her mother, Gina Batista, said through tears. “They said she would never speak, and the option was to put her in a home. I said no. I never listened to the doctors.”
Batista treated Skai as a child who could achieve goals, not as a disabled child. As a teen mom, she faced many obstacles. Her perseverance paid off after Ska’s sister Asia was born. Skai began to learn more skills with the arrival of the new baby.
Mason Bellamy, director of services for exceptional children, said CMCSS is devoted to helping all students reach their full potential.