Three Lincoln County High School students have recently completed an inspiring transition program that empowers special needs students to compete in the workplace.
The Work Based Personalized Learning Program partners with local businesses to help prepare the teens for employment. Timmy Keener, Quenten Hedgspeth and Hayden Holman are the most recent students to complete the course, in which they were enrolled for three years.
Students benefit from one-on-one training that teaches them a variety of skills they can use in the workplace. Additional classroom training teaches them how to look in the classifieds to find jobs, fill out applications, write a resume, know the terms that apply to salary, including gross and net pay. Businesses benefit not only with free labor, but with the satisfaction of giving back to the community.
All three young men were hosted by businesses that taught them skills in various work-related areas.
“The goal is to have different experiences to explore what they like,” said Felicia Riner, WBL coordinator, special education and homebound instructor.
Riner became involved with the program in 2016 when she started teaching at LCHS. She explained that the goal of the program is to let the students have different work experiences so that they can explore what types of jobs they like best.
Currently, the program has 10 participating partners, including T & W Machine, Shoney’s Restaurant, Marvin’s Restaurant, The Hampton Inn, Shoe Sensation, Fayetteville Animal Shelter, Goodwill, Advance Auto, Walgreens and the Fayetteville-Lincoln County Senior Citizens Center. Every semester the partners are rotated.
At Walgreens, students helped stack shelves, clean the parking lot and run cash registers. While training at the Senior Citizens Center, the teens shred paperwork, and at TMW they did packaging. Students worked in the breakfast area and laundry at the Hampton Inn, and at the Fayetteville Animal Shelter, they socialized animals, bathed animals and washed towels.
Riner and Alicia Barnes, educational assistant, both have CDL licenses and provide transportation for the groups in training and stay with two of three groups.
“One group is independent. They are seniors and have demonstrated their ability to work independently,” said Riner.
“We hope to help other students, as well. There are eight students now. They’re an amazing group, and I’m blessed to do what I do,” Riner said.
Advance Auto Parts, the program’s most recent partner, will have sponsored three LCHS students before the end of the year.
“This partnership allows a mix of classroom learning time and skills training such as writing resumes, interviewing skills and self-evaluation, as well as opportunities to experience and learn skills that prepare them to work, for our part, in a retail store,” said Melanie Winland, Advance Auto Parts, Store 3540, general manager.
“Quenten and Timmy have been working on various skills around merchandising, setting planograms and store appearance. Other skills have included inventory management through cycle counts and changing over advertising signage,” Winland explained.
“It has been a privilege to watch these young men grow,” Winland added.
While the students spend one hour per day, four times per week, partnering with one person in a business, in the classroom Riner also encourages the students to journal, to write down which jobs they enjoy most and what they feel they need to work on.
“We also do a circle to discuss things … they are learning not to be quite as shy,” she said.
Riner has them take an “attitude inventory” in order to be more reflective.
“We hope at this point we’ll have students that will have paid positions,” Riner stated.
“This inspiring program empowers students that need some extra help to strive to be productive adults.”
Businesses that are interested in partnering with the program may contact Riner at (931) 433-6505 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.