School to work: Empower people with disabilities

Posted at 3:52 PM, Sep 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-27 16:45:41-04

It is often difficult to make the jump from the classroom to an everyday career. School provides the critical thinking skills, but the move to the real world can be intimidating. The transition is especially difficult for people with disabilities, 72 percent of whom are unemployed — and they make up one-third of those in poverty.

Being independent and self-sufficient leads to a sense of pride and a good quality of life. That’s what transition academies like Gulfstream Goodwill Industries’ Transition to Life Academy charter school are all about.

Gulfstream Goodwill’s Transition to Life Academy is for students with disabilities between 16 and 21 who are seeking or have graduated with a special diploma or have deferred graduation and are transitioning from school to work. The academy eases the process through hands-on services.

Services for success

Upon enrollment, the student and school staff evaluate specific goals and skills to determine a customized pathway of services for each individual. Typically, before students have to worry about getting a job, they learn skills through classes that focus on independent living, career preparation and computer skills. Students are provided with opportunities such as job shadowing, shopping and recreation.

Gulfstream Goodwill’s Transition to Life Academy is part of a national work experience program called “Project SEARCH.” This is a business-led program which offers students learning opportunities for higher skilled positions with the support needed by an ESE teacher and Job Trainers. The school offers other work experience programs providing students “on the job training” opportunities located at area businesses in the community. Many of the work experiences lead to employment with our business partners.

Students' needs are matched with jobs that would be a good fit, and they receive job coaching as soon as they’re employed. The student, employer and job coach determine when it's time to transition from job coaching and guidance — but visits and resources are always available while students are enrolled, through services such as supported employment.



Stories of success

Just as students earn grades, transition academies like Gulfstream Goodwill’s Transition to Life Academy are given a "satisfactory" or "not satisfactory" rating. Because of its involved approach, the Transition to Life Academy consistently receives satisfactory marks as a result of student academic excellence and positive employment outcomes.

Testimonials are a great way to see the kind of positive difference a transition school can make. Jordan, enrolled in Gulfstream Goodwill’s charter school and was placed in a position with ALL-TAG Security Americas, Inc. Since starting in 2015, he’s become the go-to for helping train new staff members and is considered one of the company’s top-performing employees.

Something for everyone

Whether you’re looking for help to get ready for a dream career or trying to learn skills to organize your life, the resources available at Gulfstream Goodwill help take the stress out of facing new challenges.

For more information about Gulfstream Goodwill and its Transition to Life Academy, including other employment success stories, visit The next enrollment deadline is in October.