New Hanover County Schools aims to train students with disabilities to work for district

New Hanover County Schools aims to train students with disabilities to work for district

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - New Hanover County Schools says they have partnered with a Vocational Rehabilitation Services to hire more diverse workers.

Vocational Rehabilitation Services is a unit of the state Department of Health and Human Services. The school district says they hope the partnership makes them a more inclusive place to work and also allows them to prepare students with disabilities to apply for positions both with the school system and outside the district.

“We want to ensure that we are equitable across the board for all persons. Our students with disabilities have options. We are committed to ensuring they have access, support, and opportunity to pursue whatever post-graduate path they choose. NHCS is developing workers, providing internships, and then providing job opportunities,” Board Chair Estep said in a press release.

Representatives from human resources, special education, public relations, and Voc Rehab have been working together in a committee to create an inclusive culture. Vocational Rehabilitation has provided workshops for school administrators, child nutrition supervisors and maintenance department supervisors designed to sensitize them to working with people that have diverse abilities.

The team recently held an application day event where attendees were helped through the application process and got tips on how to navigate the online application system, draft cover letters and references.

“We are beyond excited to share our story on expanding these supports into adult life as a model of hiring and retaining employees with special needs. Our collaborative partnership with Vocational Rehabilitation is equipping our administrators with skills to break down barriers, develop needed accommodations, and support job coaching. We hope our inclusive hiring culture can become a model for our community,” said Assistant Superintendent of Student Support Services Julie Askew.

Jaime Rhodes, Secondary Transition Specialist with Special Education for NHCS, stressed that culture changes and just like culture, NHCS is looking to improve and move forward.

“People with disabilities are a population and we want to make sure that we’re reaching those and our students that are going out into the workforce once they graduate," said Rhodes. “Whether they choose to work with NHCS or wherever they work, we want them to be prepared and we want employers to start thinking about working with people with disabilities.”

Upcoming events:

· September 26, 2019, March 2020 and July 2020: NHCS Application Days at Voc Rehab

· September 2019: Employment Marketing Skills Day

· October 23-24, 2019: NHCS Transition Fair

· October 2019 NHCS Diversity Matters Show on Inclusive Hiring

· Fall, Spring, Summer: ongoing Inclusive Hiring Workshops for administrators and supervisors

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