School for disabled partners with GW

A group of juniors from a local school for students with learning disabilities are taking field trips to GW to learn about the college experience and the different jobs offered on campus.

“It’s a great introduction for students with severe learning disabilities,” said Sharon Burns, mother of Kingsbury Day School student Eric Burns. “I’m very excited about it. It’s a great opportunity.”

The Kingsbury Day School is a private kindergarten through 12th grade full-time special education school and this is the first time it has partnered with a University to establish a school-to-job transition program. The partnership was developed with a grant from the HSC Foundation.

Kingsbury’s junior class is comprised of 14 students, and half of them are participating in the program. If students like the jobs they see around campus – many of which are in the Gelman Library, the Smith Center and the Lerner Health and Wellness Center – they can apply for paid summer internships.

GW students in the Graduate School for Education and Human Development have interned at the Kingsbury School in past years, but the school’s students have never been to GW’s campus. The new program is being run entirely by students in GSEHD.

Natalie Govanlu, a student in GSEHD who is “the brains behind the operation,” said employers on the GW campus, will benefit from this program as it is a way to recruit workers.

“They’re all excited about the opportunity to recruit and teach people about their fields,” she said.

Shannon Holmes, a senior at GW majoring in American Studies who works in Gelman said, “It’s a good opportunity for any high school students, but especially these students.”

Like most high school students, Kingsbury students are worried about the challenges of college. The partnership between GW and the school aims to not only expose students to jobs available to them immediately after college, but give students a taste of college life.

Jessica Mattis, the transition coordinator at Kingsbury, said about one third of students at Kingsbury go to a four-year college, one third go to a two-year college or vocational school, and the remaining third seek a career after graduation.

“If you don’t get help and your accommodations, you will fail,” said Cortland Baish, 17, and a junior at Kingsbury. College “takes a lot of organization, and that’s what we need to work on,” he said.

According to a press release, GW’s partnership with the Kingsbury school is a pilot program that will eventually be implemented at schools nationwide. The partnership was showcased during University President Steven Knapp’s inauguration.

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