Getting Ready for the Real World

Melissa Charette is a Special Education Teacher in the Community Based Services department in Highline had a unique Excel Grant request last fal;: “We work with special education students who are 18-21 years old, getting them ready for “The Real World.” For each student this looks different and has different levels of independence. We want them to be ready to live on their own as much as possible and get a job, whatever that looks like for them.

We need to give them as many job skills as possible. Being trained on a wide variety of options gives them more versatility when they enter the work force. In order to better do this, our school would like to develop a “transition training” room that would be a job site for kids to practice different skills. These would be things like assembling or sorting items, office work (collating, stapling, copying, alphabetizing, filing) packaging, stacking, etc.

We are asking for $500 to spend on the creation of work stations for our kids. Each student would spend a portion of their day practicing these skills to be better prepared to enter the “real world” and work force and be a contributing member of society while also feeling good about themselves. We all should have a job to go to everyday.”

What was accomplished with this grant?

I was able to assemble 25 work station boxes that each address a job skill needed in the community. These included Piece Meal training, restaurant training and office training. Each skill was suggested from vendors who work in the community and focus on getting students with disabilities jobs.

All materials purchased will be available for use with other students for years to come.

How has this grant made a difference?

Within my school, I am now able to train the 32 students on job tasks that they can use to get jobs or volunteer in their community. They can learn to fill salt and pepper shakers, wrap napkins and silverware and alphabetized file folders. Most people would be able to learn these skills quickly where as my kids may take weeks, months or even years to learn these tasks.

This work space in my room gives them this opportunity. It will even the playing field when they are looking for jobs. It really has expanded what I am able to accomplish as a teacher tenfold by giving me access to items I need to focus on specific individual job skills.

Melissa promised photos and more stories and we will post them as they arrive – so stay tuned for more!


Since 1999, the Highline Schools Foundation has been supporting innovation and excellence in Highline Public Schools. Our funding priorities focus on programs to improve academic achievement, supporting college and career readiness, grants to teachers for engaging classroom projects, the arts, athletics, and programs that keep students in school and productive. Highline is a district full of need and opportunity. The Highline Schools Foundation is the only non-profit organization dedicated to all schools in our district—our goal is to help as many students as possible be successful!

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