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Getting Involved

Job Training: How Salt Lake Businesses Can Help Prepare Special Education Students for Careers 

The vision of success for Canyons School District is that every student will graduate college- and career-ready. That extends through the average grade levels and beyond with the Canyons Transition Academy (CTA).

In this week’s episode of Connect Canyons, we sit down with Linda Hall, the Administrator over CTA as well as Brian McGill, the director of Student Wellness Services, whose son went through the CTA program.

“It’s given him a sense of purpose,” McGill says of his son who is now a senior at Alta High School, “which I know sometimes students with disabilities like to feel included, they like to have a purpose just like any other human being, and it’s provided that opportunity for him.”

CTA provides instruction and support to students who have aged out of high school but would still benefit from additional training, whether it be in a classroom, community, or vocational setting.

“We are always wanting to prepare our students for life,” says Hall, “no matter what that might be for them. It can be going to a trade school, it could be going to a four-year college, or it could be going out into the work force.”

Canyons is the first District in the state to partner with Vocational Rehabilitation through Workforce Services to provide job opportunities to students. Students who enter the program meet with a job coach and talk about their interests before doing a pre-assessment about career options before getting help with making a resume.

“A lot of our students have never had those opportunities to career search or know what they’re interested in,” says Hall. “We might have a student who thinks they’re interested in becoming a veterinarian, but have never had the experience to go actually work in a vet’s office and get that hands on experience to know if this is something they really want to do.”

Once students are finished with the pre-assessment process, the team at CTA helps to find them a job, even helping them navigate public transit, as well as sending a mentor with the student to their job for the first few weeks to help them become familiar with their work place and duties.

“We’ve been thoroughly happy and impressed with just how much growth we’ve seen in him, that he wouldn’t have had this opportunity otherwise,” McGill says of his son who began working at his current job in the summer of 2022 and the plan was for him to participate in a four-to-six-week paid internship.

“A lot of times our students, after they do the six weeks, the employers are so happy they actually keep them on,” says Hall.

McGill’s son has now worked his way up through a number of positions at his job, gaining more responsibilities along the way.

“We’ve seen that light within him kind of go on,” McGill says. “We look at it as the experience and the growth and the skill sets he’s learning. Being on the job and being part of an identity, part of their company, means the world to him.”

Those skills and the confidence that comes with them has also impacted his time at school, gaining confidence and making more connections through choir and the Alta Ballroom Team.

“That’s our main goal,” says Hall, “helping every student be successful in every area they choose to be in.”

To learn more about CTA or contact them to get involved in the program either as a parent or a business, visit their website.

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Lucie Chamberlain

Alta View Elementary

If a movie about super teachers were ever made, Lucie Chamberlain would be a prime candidate for a leading role. Fortunately for her kindergarten students at Alta View Elementary, she already thrives in a supporting role for them. Parents thank her for being a “super teacher.” She is also described as an “amazing colleague.” Whether students need help in the classroom or from home while sick, Lucie goes above and beyond to help them learn, overcome fears, and feel important and cared for. Lucie is the reason a number of kids went from hating school to loving it, according to parents. The way she exudes patience, sweetness, positive energy, and love for her students with special needs melts is appreciated and admired. One parent noted: “Both my kids wish she could be their teacher forever.” Another added:  “She treats every student like their learning and their feelings are her priority.” Super teacher, indeed!

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