An innovative San Bernardino City Unified School District program that prepares Special Education students to be gainfully employed after high school has been lauded as a state model of excellence.
The California School Boards Association (CSBA) presented the prestigious Golden Bell Award to the district’s Beyond Pathways Program on Thursday, Dec. 2.
The Beyond Pathways Program provides job skills training to students with moderate to severe disabilities. Overseen by the Special Education Department, the program includes the Business and Technology Pathway at San Andreas High School, the Community Integrated Program/Bridge to WORC Program at Anderson School and the WORC Program at Middle College High School/Valley College and Cal State San Bernardino.
Students who participate in Beyond Pathways have opportunities to learn valuable life and work skills before reaching the age of 22. By the time students leave the program, they will have gained work experience, linked with community agencies, and have an extensive transition portfolio that will support them when linking with post vocational rehabilitation agencies such as Inland Regional Center and Department of Rehabilitation.
For example, students in the CIP program learn how to keep inventory, stock shelves, assemble and pack items, and other tasks they might be expected to do in a warehouse or retail company through workability job placement and simulation activities in the PAES Laboratory. Students will also learn about self-advocacy, time management and responsibility, vital skills needed as they transition into adulthood.
On-the-job training is essential to helping students with special needs lead productive lives, said Howana Lundy, director of the district’s Special Education Department.
“The success of our program is rooted in the belief that all students can benefit from career pathways and community partnerships; especially students with special needs,” Lundy said. “We have students working in numerous businesses right here in our community who have a new lease on life because of our Beyond Pathways program.”
Each year, CSBA recognizes outstanding educational programs and school governance practices that effectively address the needs of California students. The district has earned several Golden Bell Awards in recent years, including one for its efforts to cultivate future teachers from its student ranks through the Grow Your Own program. The employee onboarding program and the Demonstration Teacher Program, both overseen by Human Resources, have also won Golden Bell acclaim.