SAN ANTONIO – When a special education student graduates from high school, that transition into the real world can be a little tough.
The Edgewood Independent School District’s Burleson School for Innovation and Education helps special needs students ages 18-21 make that transition easier and help them reach life goals.
“We are just about supporting them through this bridge and process until they are able to become independent -- as they can and want to be,” Sarah Minner, the 18 plus transition coordinator for the district said.
With the help of several grants and a partnership with Texas A&M San Antonio, the school provides many on site job opportunities for the students that help prepare them for the real world.
A student run cafe helps them learn how to use a cash register and provide customer service and so does their student run second hand boutique.
A graphic t-shirt print shop and bike repair shop help them gain niche work skills.
An outdoor garden on campus isn’t just a place to relax, but a workspace that teaches students how to grow and take care of plants.
But when the pandemic hit, all of this came to a screeching halt. Students have been off campus since March.
“They struggled with just having a place that they really loved going to and it’s not available for them for so long,” Minner said. “So we are excited now that we can offer that.”
The students are now back on campus, starting this week with a lot of preparations and changes made.
Minner said it’s been several weeks of virtually getting students used to wearing a mask all day and talking them through what the school year will look like with the pandemic.
The program is taking several social distance precautions. For example, it will have less students in the classroom or workspace and even some of the job sites have changed gears.
The t-shirt print shop now prints their social distancing signs.
Typically, the program has about 30 students on campus, but this Fall only about half of them are coming back for in-person learning.
“Right now we have a young man who has a machine at home with him and he is printing for us remotely and we are picking up,” Minner said. “So the work is continuing which is pretty cool.”
One thing that hasn’t changed, the amount of effort the staff puts into make sure the students succeed.