Each October, we celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). It’s one way we recognize the community partnerships and jobsites that over the years have provided advocacy in the cause of equal employment, and mentorship for our students. Each partner is invaluable in our efforts to prepare students for a successful transition from school to adult life with meaningful work and community inclusion. We are proud to use NDEAM as an opportunity for Ivymount School to thank the community partners, and highlight a few of our jobsites that have helped our students build work and life skills.
This year, Post High School students started going to Second Story Books. The tasks that they complete are stocking shelves with new books, DVDs, CDs, records, and art. Students work on skills such as alphabetizing, customer service, identifying damaged books, identifying different sections or topics, and navigating a crowded environment. Lately, students have been working on creating and hanging up signs to label different section, advertise sales and help with alphabetizing. The supervisor commented recently that they have noticed since signs have been placed around their store, less customers seek out their employees for questions, allowing their full-time workers to complete other important tasks.
Black Hill Regional Park has been a community jobsite partner for students from the Endeavors School Program since 2015. The site provides a wide range of indoor and outdoor tasks as well as a spectacular backdrop, as the Visitor’s Center overlooks Little Seneca Lake. Students help maintain outdoor learning environments, such as the Pebble Harp, dust and tidy up the indoor learning space, water plants, shred documents, and perform other tasks as needed. The students appear to truly enjoy this jobsite and are eager to return weekly. Special thanks to the Naturalists at the Visitor Center who always ensure the students learn something about our natural world, in addition to practicing job and social skills!
Students who intern at Dogfish Head in Gaithersburg help get the dining room ready for customers. They clean tables and chairs, disinfect menus, set tables, refill sugar caddies, and help set up for events. We are lucky to partner with supportive supervisors, who help set our students up for success by teaching them what it takes to work in a restaurant environment.
At Locust Grove Nature Center, Post High School students practice job skills while feeding the turtles and maintaining the grounds. Locust Grove is a longstanding supporter of Ivymount and was one of the first jobsites we began working with again after pandemic restrictions were lifted.
These are just a few examples of the outstanding community partners who provide vocational skill training for Ivymount students and truly embody the spirit of NDEAM. We are so grateful for each and every one of these organizations that allow our students grow and shine!