LUCASVILLE — One of the latest programs to join the impressive slate of offerings at the Scioto County Career and Technical Center (SCCTC) is the Jobs Training Coordination (JTC) Project Life.
The project currently has 13 students enrolled who are diagnosed with some form of disability.
The project works with two instructors and two teacher aides to instruct life and job skills so that the students can one day lead a successful professional life.
The two instructors are Chet Thayer and Desra Wortman.
This project only began last year and Thayer says that they’ve made a difference in student lives.
“It was pretty awesome,” Thayer said. “Starting out new, we didn’t have a finished lab and kitchen until halfway through, but we spent time building the program out. It was really rewarding. We watched our kids come a long way in their skill sets and social settings. They were working together and in teams. Seeing the growth in the students and school district participation was great.”
The school has been teaching various life skills to the students, as well as business lessons. One feature the program will boast is the option for students to start businesses.
“We started making dog treats last year as a micro-business and we’re going to start selling them at Tuesday Farmers Markets,” Thayer said. “That’s been a good project.”
Thayer said the overall program has been shaping nicely and that the teachers are currently working on outreach in the business community to get students placed into internships, where they will learn to work and become employable.
“We take students with disabilities, and we work through a program based on their needs. At the start of the year, we get to know them, work in the kitchen and build life skills—cooking, cleaning, laundry—and we just get to interact and get close with them.”
Some of the topics covered include team building, soft skills, basic technology, workplace safety, financial literacy, social communication, gaining and maintaining employment.
Part of what makes the project so successful is the ratio of students to teacher, with 4 teachers to 13 students.
As the project solidifies partnerships within the business community, the instructors meet with the employers and discuss the jobs. They learn the jobs themselves, and then work with the students on how to do those jobs. Once students are trained, they enter the field with help.
“We then send interns out between 8:30 a.m. and 11 to work on jobs four days a week,” Thayer said. “They have a job coach with them all of the time.
Project Life is with the students every step of the way, utilizing measurable goals to track growth and plan for lessons.
“The cool thing about Project Life is the software we use. We plug in job tasks and requirements that employers want done. Our job trainers then work on these skill sets with students to score them one to 10 on how much help we give them. Sometimes, they start on a two or three level, but we aim to get them to a seven or to 10 to help them be employable.”
Thayer said that a lot of what the program does is find methods best suited for each kid to complete common tasks in the workforce.
“We look for ways they can be accommodated, but in ways that they can still do the job and it won’t just cost an employer money,” Thayer explained.
The program spends a day each week reviewing numbers and measuring goals to find ways of improving student skill sets.
“It is all about helping them self-regulate and teaching them to ask questions, work on social skills, and being part of the process,” Thayer explained, “That’s why we include them in a lot of the planning process as we work on getting them in a job.”
Throughout the year, the students go on trips to see downtown Portsmouth and learn about the community.
“Another thing we focus on is being part of the community, which is why we take them out to see new businesses and learn what the community has to offer,” Thayer said. “Little Portsmouth has a lot going on and a lot of people don’t know that. Like, when we work the market, we’re going to walk them down Second Street and show them the businesses and floodwall. We’re going to eat at the Market Street Café and then have donuts at Kathy Sue’s. We just want to get the students out and show them what is out there for them.”
Kyle Copley, Superintendent, also sees the befit of the program.
“Our JTC/Project Life Program is a wonderful opportunity for students to experience a real life on the job environment without having to leave the walls of the CTC classroom. Our goal is for our students to become productive employees who produce expected outcomes for employers. Mr. Thayer, Ms. Wortman, Ms. Coldiron and Mrs. Duke have worked above and beyond for the students in the program and have exceeded our expectations. I see the pure enjoyment and pride each of the students and staff have in the work they do each day and that’s a feeling that every student and teacher should strive to experience. The JTC Program is a game changer for the students enrolled and will provide employers with students who are skilled and ready to be successful.”
Reach Joseph Pratt at (740) 353-3101, by email at [email protected], © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved