These teenagers in Morgan Davis’ class have been practicing their daily life skills for weeks in hopes of bringing home a prize to their school on Singerly Road in Elkton. What the average adult sees as the drudgery of folding clothes, packing lunches, setting the table or handling a checking account these students see as a learning experience and a step toward independence.
“I like folding clothes,” said Justin George, 19, from Elkton. He also likes setting the table in the mock apartment set up at the school. At the time, he was planning to wash clothes and was assigned the task of sorting into whites, colors and dark.
At another station in the mock apartment, Nicolai Dozier, 16, the Student Leader and Captain of the Transition Team, was helping Anthony Dawson, 13, pack lunches into brown bags.
“No smashed sandwiches,” Dawson said, reminding himself that heavier items such as an applesauce cup and a carton of milk go in the bottom of the bag.
Dozier and Dawson pack lunches every day and Dozier delivers them around the school.
“I get Miss Morgan’s badge and and I will take the lunches to the portables,” Dozier said.
“The goal is to teach them some level of independence,” said Jess Bane, Transition Assistant. “They take what they learn here and go out into the community for service after high school.”
Whether from birth, or an injury or illness, the students competing in the Transitional Olympics have challenges with mobility, attention, communication, emotions or processing that can affect their ability to learn and retain information. So Davis, Transition Coordinator, Bane and others work with them daily.
Each skill completed earns them Case Cash. The Case Cash goes into their own in-school bank account and can be spent at the school store or the cafeteria. Success so far has taken one student to the Cecil County School of Technology.
“Nicolai got his first job,” Davis said. He works for Chick Fil-A. Other students will find summer employment thanks in part to the skills they learned in meeting a potential employer and participating in a job interview.
“Susquehanna Workforce Network does a program of Summer Youth Employment and Cecil County Public Schools has Supported Employment,” Davis said.
There’s also opportunities to travel outside the school each month and socialize and use their skillsets that they practice on every day.
Seven High Road students will compete in the Transitional Olympics. Five of those have been in the competition before.
“We did not win last year but we’re coming on strong this year,” Davis said. What tripped them up last year was two competitions for which they never trained; shoe laces and potted plants. New this year is counting change. The students are ready and each will compete in at least one event.
“They will also cheer each other on,” Davis said.