Vocational Education Helps Students Prepare for The Future

January 11, 2023
Image of a young person smiling stands in front of the entrance of ACME Supermarket.

Green Chimneys student Kolby works at ACME Supermarket in Brewster.

A key element in helping youth to prepare for their future is employment-focused education that facilitates career awareness, skills development, and the ability to pursue opportunities. As part of the standards designated by New York State, Green Chimneys’ curriculum includes Career and Technical Education (CTE) and Career Development and Occupational Studies (CDOS). Both encompass learning standards and work-readiness skills introduced as early as 9th grade.

Partnerships that enrich programming

Over the past year, an expanded collaboration with Adult Career and Continuing Education Services-Vocational Rehabilitation (ACCES-VR) and The Arc Mid-Hudson has benefited Green Chimneys vocational education programming. Students traditionally participated in work readiness and job exploration courses, also known as pre­-employment training, either off-site or online. Working closely with provider The Arc Mid-Hudson, Green Chimneys’ Transition Planning Team was able to bring the courses to the school campus, greatly improving student access and participation.

Stevin, a Green Chimneys student, is building landscaping skills through placement in partnership with The Arc Mid-Hudson.

Individualized employment-focused training and support

For students who often require an individualized approach to learning, or may be balancing a schedule that includes additional therapeutic activities or sessions, traveling off-campus for programming can be challenging. This facilitation of on-site programming has brought several significant benefits:

  • An increased number of students who can easily access.
  • Accommodation of students who prefer to learn in person but are unable to participate off-site.
  • Ability for instructors to cover more in-depth content with students.
  • Improved opportunities for practice, such as in person mock job interviews.

Seeing students succeed

And the results speak for themselves: Students are gaining genuine work experience in local supermarkets and restaurants, and some have been offered positions with partner-provider The Arc. The Arc is also able to support students’ existing Learn & Earn jobs on campus; if a student already has a Green Chimneys campus job, they can be added to The Arc agency payroll, qualifying the student for minimum wage at $13.20 an hour.

High School student Colin (above) participated in work readiness courses with the goal of a summer internship through The Arc. He already had campus jobs at the dining hall and Boni-Bel Farm—earning Green Chimneys’ standard Learn & Earn rate—and had secured a position at a local ice cream store. The Arc assumed payment for all three of Colin’s jobs; he kept track of his schedules and submitted his hours each week, reinforcing his great sense of responsibility and pride in his work.

On-site pre-employment training on our campus gives our students the knowledge, practical experience, and confidence that they need to achieve their employment aspirations. From job-seeking skills and interview prep to important post-hire abilities, such as punctuality, workplace communication, and appropriate demeanor, this work builds an important foundation that sets up students for success, both now and into their future.

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