KINGSPORT, TN (WJHL) – A Kingsport high school is helping students with disabilities, teaching them how to find and get a job after graduation.
The Transition School to Work program is brand new this year at Dobyns-Bennett.
Participating students come to school in the morning for a readiness workshop, where they learn things like how to apply for a job and how to manage a budget. Then, they go out to local businesses for a few hours to learn on the job skills, before returning back to school to complete their school day.
Dobyns-Bennett senior Caleb spends his mornings at Food City, doing a little bit of everything, from bagging groceries to cleaning up.
“It makes me feel pretty good, it’s like I started my job early,” said Caleb.
Down the street at Golden Corral, junior Timmy is brewing a batch of sweet tea.
“If I actually do get a job here they know what I’m capable of,” Timmy said.
He’s one of 18 students participating in DB’s brand new program – called Transition School to Work.
“We are helping these students get the job skills needed to be hired and hold a job after graduation,” said coordinator Ben Robertson.
Funded primarily through a grant with the Division of Rehabilitation Services, Robertson said the program teaches students critical skills with on-the-job training.
“These students are learning how to apply for jobs, how to write down references for jobs, how to do teamwork on the job site, communication on the job site, working with their coworkers, how to talk with their supervisors,” Robertson said.
Five local businesses have opened their doors to participants.
“I just don’t think it’s fair to limit someone based on the fact that they have a disability,” said Walgreens Assistant Store Manager Elena Foreman. “I feel like you can always find that greatness in a person and be able to utilize it to help our company.”
“I learned getting a job is important,” said Caleb.
And that’s what program leaders say it’s all about.
“We give them hope, they have hope to be able to find a job, they have the hope to learn the skills that are needed to be able to get a job,” said Robertson.
Program leaders said they hope to expand the program, by adding students and looking for more partnering businesses. They also said they are in the process of reapplying for the grant to continue the program next year.
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