EMPLOY program builds employability with Patriot Printing Press
Posted on 11/13/2019
Student, Josh Park, holding a shirt with Dr. Walts beside  Mrs. Carrie Bradshaw, and students Tony Arvello and Austin Plucinski.The EMPLOY program provides students the opportunity to learn and develop employable and life management skills. There are three levels to the EMPLOY program and each has a different focus.

EMPLOY I, focuses on career awareness, giving students opportunities to learn about personal preferences and interests, as well as experience a variety of careers and occupations. Students have the opportunity to participate in various jobs throughout the school, such as working with the custodial staff, sorting mail, delivering copy paper to each department on a weekly basis, and assisting teachers with making copies.

EMPLOY II focuses on employ-ability and life management skills, providing students with opportunities to develop communication skills, independent living skills, personal/social skills, and job search and retention skills. Students have the opportunity to work with two local businesses for 45 minutes per week to familiarize themselves with getting on the bus and going to their business sites.

The focus of EMPLOY III is to reinforce and enrich the goals of the previous classes, as well as provide vocational job exploration and the development of marketable job skills through the completion of an unpaid internship. For the past two years, Patriot has partnered with 13 local businesses to expand vocational experiences in the retail, office, hotel, restaurant, school, and farm industries.

Thanks to help from the Interact Club, students in EMPLOY I and II gain real work experience through the Patriot Printing Press. The Patriot Printing Press, or “t-shirt business” came to be with help from the Interact Club. The club designed Autism Awareness t-shirts annually to be sold in the spring for Autism Awareness month. “[The] students would design the artwork and a local business, owned by grandparents of a Patriot student, would screen them. The Interact Club then would help screen the shirts,” explained EMPLOY Teacher and Interact Club Sponsor Brook Bell.

The Interact Club offered to purchase the printing press, and the owners sold it to them, allowing for the EMPLOY Program to start their t-shirt business. “It wasn't until the middle of the 2018-2019 school year that the EMPLOY Program decided to set the screen printing to the side and learn how to heat press shirts instead. The heat press is easier to use and students can be more independent with this process, as the EMPLOY Program is all about striving toward independence,” Bell shared.

The money made from the Patriot Printing Press, along with donations from the community and Patriot staff, are used to stock the Employ Store with items that EMPLOY students can “purchase” with their fake checks they earn each month. This exercise requires students to add up their monthly “checks” and use their funds to “purchase” items at the store, operating the “check register” item by item, until their account is down to $0.

“It is important to the teachers to show the students their hard work throughout the year is important - and with a good work ethic comes good payment!” said Bell.

Nearly every student who has gone through the EMPLOY Program at Patriot in the last eight years has either furthered their education through college, vocational training, or obtained a job.

Providing all students with the skills they need to become independent and highly employable adults is #PositivelyPWCS!