Greene County program helps students with disabilities get a job after high school

GREENE COUNTY, TN (WJHL) – For high school students with disabilities sometimes the question of what comes after graduation isn’t easy to answer. Now local schools are getting on board with a statewide program that aims to help make the transition from student to employee easier for students with disabilities.

Greene County schools is a couple of years in to a program that aims to give students with disabilities independence and employment after high school.

Thanks to a state grant, the program helps students gain job skills while still in high school so they can get a job when they graduate. Students are given a job and a job coach to help them.

“It’s really fun because the kids like it they’re enjoying their self and they’re learning something they like,” Job coach Kathy Laws said.

Dillon and Stephen work in the kitchen of Laughlin Memorial Hospital, they are two of the students in Greene County’s Transition School to Work program.

“We want the first job experience with these kids to be a positive one and with our employers we know it’s a positive one,” Bob Bennett, the workplace readiness specialist for Greene County Schools said.

“We’ve not had one complaint on these young people and their attitudes when department heads, you talk to them, it’s just been super,” Noah Roark, HR Director for Laughlin Memorial Hospital said.

The goal is when these students graduate high school; they already have the work experience to get a job.

“I hope other industries look at this program and what Laughlin is doing and maybe be able to transition young people into jobs in their areas too,” Roark said.

Right now about nine job sites in Greene County are a part of the program.

“Without this program I don’t think they would be getting any skills because the jobs that they come to are real jobs they’re not make-do jobs,” Bennett said. And not just jobs that get them to graduation, Roark said the students in this program will be high on the list when the hospital has job openings to fill.

Kingsport just started a Transition School to Work program this year at Dobyns-Bennett High School. Participants in the program were recently interviewed for a Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities state video series.

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