Students filled the gymnasium of the North Pocono High School recently for the school’s annual Transition Fair, an event that helps bring awareness of post-graduation options to area high schoolers with special needs. Organized by Teri Mokay, the district’s transition coordinator, and Dr. Donna Carey, supervisor of pupil personnel, the event was attended by students from the North Pocono High School as well as by teens from the Dunmore, Old Forge, and Valley View school districts.
According to event organizers, the objective of the Transition Fair is to give high school students with special needs who have educational service agreements with post-secondary or employment goals the opportunity to meet with representatives from colleges, employers, businesses, and agencies in order to achieve future goals after high school.
In addition to information tables where students could meet with representatives from the different agencies, employers, and colleges, a number of information stations were set up for experts who conducted interactive sessions with students. Information stations were manned by representatives from Dress for Success discussing proper workplace attire, people from the Center for Independent Living talking about self-advocacy, and folks from the Educational Opportunity Center with a presentation about the skills needed in today’s workforce.
A representative from Marywood University’s Office of Disability Services was on hand at one of the information tables to discuss the transition process from high school to college, roles and responsibilities in the accommodation process, and the differences between high school and college for students with disabilities.
Students, teachers, and students who attended the Transition Fair were able to circulate through the gymnasium listening to the various presentations, including a panel of professionals consisting of area residents in a wide range of career fields. Mock interviews were conducted to help students get a feel for what an interview for employment might be like as well.
Many of the information stations at the event were interactive, such as the Center for Independent Living’s PowerPoint presentation about fulfilling the expectations of any workplace environment. We are presenting aspects of self-advocacy, self-awareness, and self-esteem with a PowerPoint that brings awareness of these things in the workplace. We’re helping students learn how recognize what’s appropriate and what’s inappropriate, and we’re promoting our program too,” explained Danii Moriano, who was representing the Center at the Transition Fair.
Ana Caparo, 9th grader in the North Pocono High School, was excited to be at the Transition Fair. She said that even though she still has a few years of high school left, she appreciated the opportunity to start exploring some options for her future.
“I learned about how to talk to people more for better business communication, about questions to ask employers. I learned about careers after high school and that if I don’t go to college, I can get a good job instead. I learned about financial aid if I do decide to go to college. I learned that if you have a learning disability, you can advocate for yourself in college to get what you need,” said Ana, who aspires to become a therapist or special education teacher because she’d like a career that allows her to help others.
Another 9th grade student from the North Pocono High School felt optimistic about his post-graduation options and was motivated by what he learned at the Transition Fair. “I learned how Johnson College will help me become a vet tech to start my career, then I can go to veterinary school when I’m ready. The most interesting thing I learned was when I practiced interviewing. I’m good at it, but I need to work on telling people about my short-term goals,” explained Aiden Martelli, a determined young man who hopes to pursue a career as a veterinarian specializing in the care of reptiles.
During the event, members of the North Pocono Breakfast Club offered refreshments for sale. The Breakfast Club consists of students from the Life Skills and Autistic Support classes who sell homemade baked goods, along with fresh coffee and a variety of teas, to school personnel several mornings each week. This experience helps the students learn important hand-on skills and allows them to experience what it’s like to interact with customers during a business transaction.
The Transition Fair is held annually and serves as a wonderful way for students with disabilities to see firsthand that there are a plethora of options for further education, job training, and employment available to them once they graduate from high school.