Voc Ed: Navigating the World of Work

By Yvonne White, Staff Support Specialist

Participants in the Vocational Education program come together each afternoon, after an intense morning of job training, for a perek of learning.  The purpose is to explore “soft” job skills, such as communication, organization, and personal presentation.  This cohort of young adults has created a safe space where they ask how to navigate the unwritten rules of the work environment, figure out how to overcome personal challenges, set career goals, and create personal career plans.  The class laughs together, a lot.  Students get frustrated when placed outside of comfort zones, but have discovered it is okay, and work together on how to express frustration appropriately.  Most importantly, many, many questions are asked, and students patiently discover answers together.


The (class selected) theme this summer is “Leadership, Teamwork, and Work”. Each student has identified their skill strengths, personality qualities that shine, and worked on developing a positive self-image that focuses on abilities.  A highlight this summer – students created an interview template used to learn about skills and education required in professional fields.  The class then invited several guest speakers and used the template both for professional learning and to practice communication skills.  Students enjoyed learning about nursing, being a lawyer, the challenges of teaching, and how to be the Program Director at our very own CRNE! Communication skills, both verbal and nonverbal, are further challenged through play acting.  Teamwork, and roles within a team, are practiced playing games and telling stories.  We will spend the last two weeks of camp answering the question, “What makes a good leader?” and exploring our own leadership qualities. Each student is creating a Personal Work Portfolio to go home with them at the end of the summer, showcasing individual professional skills and learning while at camp. The class journey this summer is awe-inspiring, especially when coupled with the fact that each participant has a significant disability that will always categorize them as “special”.