New program preps students to improve on living skills

Manistee Intermediate School District transition specialist Jane Beebe talks to the board of education about the new transition living program they will be offering their students this fall.

Manistee Intermediate School District transition specialist Jane Beebe talks to the board of education about the new transition living program they will be offering their students this fall.

MANISTEE — Preparing students for the next level.

That is the basic foundation of all educational institutions as they prepare their students for the future. That is what the Manistee Intermediate School District is doing for its moderately cognitive impaired students with a new program called Transition Community Living Experience (TCLE).

TCLE is a program for students with disabilities between the ages of 16 and 26 that teaches independent living and community preparation skills. It is designed for students who have not completed high school.

Transition specialist Jane Beebe of the Manistee ISD delivered a report on this new program to the board on Tuesday. ISD special education director Jim Scranton said he feels this program will better suit the student’s needs.

“We have been looking for something for our older moderately cognitive impaired (MCI) classroom,” he said. There are several programs out there that are unique and one of those is the TCLE program.”

Beebe said the program differs from the current work based learning program. The difference being the work based is designed to give them skills that will lead to employment, while this proposed program doesn’t address those things.

“The TCLE teaches the students independent living skills and community preparation and is designed for students who have not completed high school,” said Beebe. “Students with a diploma would not be able to participate in this program.”

Beebe said the pupil accounting manual said the program must consist of several things that have to be followed:

* It must be under the direction of a certified special education teacher from the district;

* The instructional component, under direct supervision of a certificated teacher, is no less than 60 consecutive minutes daily and may take place at the community placement site;

* A certificated staff member employed by the district must visit the student and the student’s instructor in the community placement location once every 30 calendar days;

* Students may be enrolled in both worksite based learning programs and TCLE programs; however, neither the worksite based learning program, nor the community placement part of the TCLE may exceed 50 percent of the student’s full time equivalent;

* TCLE programs may be provided in various locations such as a K-12 school campus, a post secondary school campus, or at a community location;

* Students in TCLE programs are not performing work, are not considered to be a paid or unpaid trainee under federal definitions, and their actions do not constitute an employer/employee relationship; and

“It would be centered around what the student’s needs are and documented in their IEP (Indvidualized Education Program),” said Beebe. “What is also important is they are not performing any work and there isn’t any employee-employer relationship.”

Beebe said other requirements are the district must have a training plan and training agreement with the community living experiences site in place by the pupil membership count day. That is creates the expectations and standards of attainment, which sets forth expectations.

“The community living experience must align with the pupil’s post-secondary goals, as described in the pupil’s IEP,” said Beebe.

Other items that Beebe stressed is the community living experiences component must be approved by the local school board and contain learning objectives and standards for determining pupil progress.

“The learning objectives cannot be general, such as punctuality, developing good work habits, and other general employability skills,” she said. “The staff that are involved in this program have to keep track of how the students are doing and what skills they are  working on. They also have to keep track of their attendance.”

With work based learning the intent is to gain employment skills as it is important to learn the skills necessary to function on a daily basis. The whole idea of that program is to lead to employment.

“So TCLE is more about teaching them as much as we can about being in the community in different adult living areas if very important,” she said. “Bottom line is with TCLE we are looking at eight students from the Moderately Cognitively Impaired classroom are being concerned with this program for 2015-16 school year.”

Beebe said the MCI special education teacher employed by the ISD will oversee the program and visit the sites where the students are located once every 30 days.

“We also have a TCLE instructor/coordinator in Katie Fischer, and she will implement the curriculum and and arrange the field trips and transportation,” she said.

Field trips will be done on Fridays and geared toward the source of curriculum they are teaching that week. Trips are planned to the grocery store, hospital, bank, Vogue Theatre, fire deparement, West Shore Community College, Ramsdell Theatre, police department and more.

“There will also be two job coaches with the students, and they will train the students at the community site,” said Beebe. “They will have a ratio of one coach to every four students.”

Beebe said these coaches are already out in the community with students, but they are presently teaching work skills under the old program.

They have purchased the Life Centered Education curriculum for the program through the Council for Exceptional Children, and Beebe said it is a good fit. The board voted 5-0 to move forward with the program.

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Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at kgrabowski@pioneergroup.com.

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