From the time a student first enrolls into a Mansfield ISD school, the mission of inspiring and educating all students to be productive citizens begins.
For the Special Education Department, this means giving students with disabilities the life skills they need to live an independent life. The Transition Program that is provided in high school specifically focuses on preparing the students for success post-graduation and into adulthood.
“Transition is really setting our kids up for life after they leave us,” said Rebecca Brooks, special education coordinator. “We really look at our life skills and also their job skills and help them to be successful once they leave us.”
Some of the tasks the transition students complete in class include washing laundry, putting up dishes, shredding papers, arranging menus and hanging up clothes.
Community input is a big component of the skills that are taught. A team of staff and local business owners meet to discuss what the current workforce needs are. That information is then directly implemented into the program.
“We hit all the academics that we have to do and then a lot of vocation life skills,” said Jinna Danser, life skills teacher at Legacy High School. “Sometimes people might be like, ‘Well, why don’t you just help them more?’ Because they’re not going to get that help when they leave here. So, we're trying to be able to pull back as much as possible but also help when needed and encourage independence.”
The goal is for the students to learn pre-employment skills that can land them a job or help them get placed with a vocational agency that can further develop their skills.
Alisa Carter, a student in the program, said she’s learned a lot through the Transition Program, and it helped her with her career goals.
“I want to become a baker,” said Carter, a senior at Legacy High School. “I like seeing people bake—bake cakes and cookies—because it looks good, and I thought it’d be really fun.”
Brooks said she loves seeing the achievements made along the way to get the kids that much closer to living a successful life.
"We want the students to be life ready," she said. "And that can look like their independence in the home... all the way up to having a job with purpose and having a job that they enjoy and making their own money. That’s huge.”
The MISD Special Education Department provides services to those ages 3 through 21 (birth through 21 for students with visual or auditory impairments) who meet the legal requirements of one or more disabilities as defined by the Texas Education Agency (TEA). Find more information about the offerings here.