In special education, educators recognize the differences among students and the value of having some of those students spending a part of the school day working at a job.
In the Ballston Spa Central School District, students who have difficulty passing the four basic Regents exams often take the option of following courses in career development and occupational studies. Initially these courses were designed for special education students, and the program allows students the possibility to learn career skills spending part of their school day working at a job.
“Students who participate in work-based learning experiences can see great success,” said Kerri Canzone-Ball, director of special education services at the Ballston Spa Central School District. “Whether it’s working to prepare food as part of a catering business, or working in the community, you can see the glow on their faces and the pride in their work.”
At the present time, students in the program work on campus, as part of buildings and grounds, food service, and clerical services. A new state grant is helping to widen the career choice offerings. Students who are not identified with special education needs can also be admitted to the program.
“It allows students to see the true importance of their academics while learning valuable vocational skills. For those students who struggle meeting the state testing requirements, it can act as a standalone credential for the purposes of graduation,” Canzone-Ball said.