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Administrator’s Corner: Helping special education students transition through age 21

Administrator’s Corner by Tami Alphs

Tami Alphs

Albert Lea Schools offers special education to students who qualify from birth to age 21. There are two transition programs for students who are 18-21 years old. These transition programs are for special education students who continue to demonstrate eligibility for special education services based upon the transition area needs identified in their Individualized Education Program (IEP) plan. These needs include post-secondary education and training, employment and independent living. Programming can look different for each student based on the student’s individual educational needs, student preferences and IEP goals.

Bridges

A special education program designed for students with developmental disabilities between the ages of 18 and 21.  This program offers a functional and vocational focus on acquiring skills necessary for increased independence in the community and rewarding employment opportunities. Students participate in community job experiences as well as learning opportunities in the areas of post-secondary education and training, jobs and job training, and independent living.  Students also engage in activities designed to increase self-advocacy in real-life settings.

Connections

A special education program designed to offer life skills and vocational training for students between the ages of 18 and 21. Its purpose is to assist students in gaining the skills necessary for independence within the community. Students attending this program learn skills that allow them to access their greatest level of independence in the transition areas of independent living, employment and post-secondary options. Students may access job training and learning opportunities on-site and in the community, depending on student ability and need.

Students in both programs run a business that offers a coffee cart to staff.  Several flavors of coffee, as well as cappuccino, hot chocolate, cider and tea, are available to staff for $1 per cup. Often they also include baked goods that they have made for sale. This is a business opportunity for the students as they learn skills in cooking, communication and budgeting. 

Tami Alphs is the executive director of special services for Albert Lea Area Schools.