The Park City High School has a new program that helps special needs students transition to careers after graduation. The special education department has a new teacher who was hired to help kids make that transition.
Special Education Teacher Trainer Kara Brechwald explains the objectives the special ed team has for preparing students for the work world. She says developing technical skills is one thing but communication skills are also important so kids can advocate for themselves or make changes in their career paths once they are out in the working world.
“Not just doing that planning but providing opportunities for students to experience all the instruction and activities and skill building. The students that are involved in this program, the outcome is that they’re going to be fully employed in a job that they love, that they feel confident about, that they have the skills. And for a lot of these students, it’s going to be employed in our local businesses. So, we wanted to structure all of the instruction, the activities, the curriculum, the opportunities. Everything’s based on that outcome for the students.”
Holly Huggins is the new Special Education Transition Teacher. She says she moved to Park City when she was 2-weeks old and attended school K through 12 in the school district. Understanding the community, she says helps her to serve the kids she is now guiding. She has about a dozen students in her class with several graduating in May.
Huggins gives an example of one of her students who is a very good cook. She says it’s important to get out of the school and so she contacted Deer Valley and brought her students to see their bakery operation first-hand.
“We’ve been so lucky to have such great community partners like Deer Valley. We had a whole lesson about Deer Valley before we went there, and we learned about all their different jobs and what their website looks like and things like that. And, then Deer Valley was awesome enough to say, sure come on up here. That’s really the first step.
Huggins teaches four classes including working on independence skills, a transition class and a career exploration class. They cover all the instruction and community-based activities and they’ve created partnerships with the Lucky Ones, the Kimball Arts Center and Recycle Utah. They work with students on resumes, cover letters and role-playing job interviews.
For one of the first activities of the year, Huggins set up a treasure hunt, using the transit system where students were sent off to explore the Snow Creek shopping center. It was an opportunity to familiarize them with the variety of businesses and possible job opportunities.
Park City officials have identified social equity as a critical priority. Huggins says she hopes to hear from more businesses and organizations.
“If anybody in Park City is listening to this and they find themselves thinking, I’d love to give a tour to this program or I have an open spot and I could use a reliable, hard working individual, they could call the high school and the high school could reach me and I’d love to set something up.”
If your business would be interested in giving a tour to the students in this program, contact Holly Huggins at the Park City High School at 435-645-5650.