Carroll High School student Makayla got a semester-long introduction to what it’s like to work in the preschool at Hickory Center Elementary School.
Makayla, a junior, was one of about two dozen Carroll students who took part in Easterseals Arc’s Pre-Employment Transition Services during the spring semester of 2019. All of the students in Pre-ETS investigate potential career and education paths and develop skills that will help them find and hold jobs. Some, such as Makayla, actually work as part of Pre-ETS.
In Makayla’s case, that meant spending afternoons with the children in preschool at Hickory Center. Some of her work was play, such as the time she spent with a boy who’s fascinated by dinosaurs or presiding at a table of children during snack time. Other times, she dived right into helping prepare the preschoolers for kindergarten. At the direction of teacher Cori Laemmle, she provided individual help to children who were learning to write by tracing letters.
“She’s a natural in the classroom,” Laemmle said. “She’s very observant and jumps right in. She thinks of things to do that I haven’t asked her to do yet.”
“I like to see them coloring pictures and playing around and exercising,” Makayla said of her preschooler students. Working in the preschool means “being able to help kids learn, kind of like I did, and seeing them enjoy having me around.”
Work-based learning opportunities, such as Makayla’s time in the preschool at Hickory Center, aren’t the only benefit of Pre-ETS. The program also includes job-exploration counseling, counseling on opportunities for education after high-school, training to help students succeed in jobs, and instruction in advocating for themselves.
In addition to Carroll High School, Easterseals Arc offers Pre-ETS programs at Wayne, South Side, North Side, Northrop, Homestead, and Columbia City High Schools, with a Memorial Park Middle School program coming soon. Any student age 14 to 22 with an IEP or a 504 plan is eligible to participate in Pre-ETS.