Supported Training Experiences Post Secondary (STEPS)
Indian Prairie School District 204’s Transition Program
In District 204, many of our students with special needs receive linkage and instruction for post high school transition to the community through the Supported Training Experiences Post Secondary program (STEPS).
Phone number: (630) 428-5685
- Jen Broz, Transition Coordinator
- Sharon Kickel, vocational coordinator
- Cyndi Perez, vocational coordinator
- Laura Bailey, teacher
- Blake Cline, teacher
- Sheri Baumgartner, teacher
- Ryan Loats, teacher
- Meghan McCallum, teacher
- Shannon Hoogveld, teacher
- Ashley Elder, teacher
- Amber Barbeau, school social worker
- Anita Strassman, speech pathologist
- Meredith Galos, speech pathologist
- Maria Wheeler, speech pathologist
- Michelle, Milewski, occupational therapist
- Debbie Craig, physical therapist
- Lisa McSharry, registered nurse
Who are the STEPS students?
Our students with disabilities have completed four years at their respective high schools and each has a transition plan that began when they turned 14 ½ years old. The transition plan was written to map out their four years in high school as they move toward their personal Post-Secondary Outcomes in the areas related to Education/Training, Employment, and when appropriate, Independent Living Skills. Students come to the STEPS Program after high school when they continue to require additional support to help them toward those Post-Secondary Outcomes. The needs for each student are varied based on person-centered planning. Our students are identified with different disabilities including autism, cognitive impairment, physical disabilities, and communication needs. Their need for support also varies for each student from maximum support for safety reasons to students who are competitively employed in the community with minimal support. The main overall goal for STEPS is to help students gain maximum independence in all areas of their lives as they move from a structured day in school into a life in the community.
The STEPS staff works closely with parents, as part of this process is to assist parents/students to transition into the world of adult services in Illinois. Although we work closely with the staff at the high schools to continue their work, STEPS looks very different from high school. Each student’s Post-Secondary Outcomes in the areas of Education/Training, Employment, and when appropriate, Independent Living Skills are unique to their interests, talents, and capabilities.
What we do at STEPS?
The weekly activities for each student look very different. Our students are offered a variety of opportunities and settings to practice their goals. We have certified teachers that work on activities such as how to look for a job, apply for a position, how to dress and practice interview skills. Other teachers help students learn functional skills like hygiene, functional reading in the community and basic communication. Several of our students are continuing in formal reading instruction and budgeting skills in math as they look forward to continuing their education at area community colleges.
Our vocational coordinators work with the businesses in the community to cultivate jobs training sites and employment opportunities for our students. There is also a ‘production’ room at Wheatland where our students produce items for sale. Some students report to the identified businesses with job coaches (teaching assistants) for training and job experience opportunities. We have seen several of our students offered competitive employment in the community. Some students need assistance in moving about in the community and we offer ‘transportation training’.
Our speech pathologist and social worker work very closely together, to help coach our students in communication and social skills that are appropriate for the work site and in different community social situations. They have several evening outings for the students each semester to help develop a sense of social community. Our Occupational Therapist co-teaches a cooking class to work on fine motor skills. Our Physical Therapist has built a fitness program that inpidualizes student needs while moving into life long fitness routines.
Through out all of these activities, teachers, teaching assistants and job coaches support students in moving toward increased independence and successful use of new skills across community environments.
Where do we do all of this?
Students move through a number of instructional spaces, depending on their inpidual needs and goals. We use the “community as our classroom” as nearly 40 local businesses are our community training sites. For several group sessions our students meet with teachers at local eateries and coffee shops. Our students participate in ongoing volunteer community service work with various service organizations in our community.
This is a brief summary of what our Transition Program STEPS looks like at Indian Prairie School District.
For more information, contact the STEPS program at 630-428-5685 or the Student Services Department, 630-375-3060.