Work-based Learning Program Extends Opportunities to Exceptional Education Students

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Two TST BOCES staff members are taking aim at providing exceptional education students with access to work-based learning programs that will prepare them for real work experiences.

Since early 2016, Work-based Learning Coordinator Michelle Pronti, along with Debbie Demers, assistant work-based learning coordinator, have been working hard to establish a network to provide exceptional education students in Tompkins, Seneca, and Tioga counties with access to programs to give them work-ready, real-life skills.

“The goal is to have provided every opportunity for our students to be entry-level-work ready by the time they exit high school,” Demers said. “If there isn’t a work-based learning program at TST or in their home district, we will fill the gap for them by creating an individualized program that meets their needs.”

Pronti and Demers are operating with a Career Development and Occupational Studies (CDOS) grant, which will extend until the end of the 2017-2018 school year. The duo have been meeting with school district officials to make them aware of the services they’ll be providing. Pronti said they’re working with the Tompkins and Candor chambers of commerce, components school staff, local businesses, and other grant recipients from neighboring counties, among others.

Pronti said they’ve also been making local businesses aware of the program and that they would have the opportunity to work with students, train them and perhaps one day hire them.

“The reception has been great so far,” Pronti said. “The businesses are really open to helping out students.”

Pronti and Demers are hosting Navigating Post-Secondary Possibilities, an event on Oct. 12 from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. at the TST BOCES Smith School Gym. The event, in accord with the CDOS grant, will provide opportunities for exceptional education students to make connections with post-secondary service providers.debbie and michelle