Opportunity: Transition program seeks volunteers

October 2017 Posted in Community, Other, School

By Melissa Wagoner

Michiel Nankman knows what it’s like to struggle in social situations. Originally from the Netherlands, the shift to life in the United States has often felt overwhelming.

“When I came to the US I was like, ‘I don’t know how to do any of these things,’” he remembered. “I still feel that way sometimes. I go to a restaurant and I’m still overwhelmed by the choices.”

These struggles, although difficult, have helped Nankman relate to the students he teaches in Silverton High School’s Transition Program, a branch of the special education department. These students are unique in that they range in age from 18 to 21 and have already graduated with an individualized education plan (IEP) and something other than a general diploma.

“The transition program is a post high school program for students in special education who want to work on their job skills and their life skills,” he explained.

This year Nankman has 12 students enrolled in this voluntary program. Meeting Monday through Friday during the school year, these young adults will work on life skills including; cooking, grocery shopping, household budgeting and leisure activities. Weekly fieldtrips to businesses in the community give hands-on experience and are an extremely important part of the learning process but can also prove challenging to organize. Nankman relies on proprietors who are willing to be
a part of the curriculum for a day or else provide interested students work experience opportunities throughout the year.

Nankman also connects students with important agencies that will become a vital part of their support network once the program is finished. One such program is the Vocational Rehabilitation Department in Salem which helps place students with steady employment, hopefully before completion of the program.

“The goal is that as the people at the school step back there are a lot of other people to step forward,” Nankman said. “We hope your last day of school is exactly the same as your first day of work.”Screen Shot 2017-09-29 at 1.25.55 PM

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