TVUSD WorkAbility I program celebrates employer partners, students

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Temecula Valley Unified School District WorkAbility I member Remy Montoya speaks thanking employers, family and friends during a ceremony honoring individuals with special needs who have proven that they can work without direct supervision, Feb. 25. Valley News/Shane Gibson photo

The Temecula Valley Unified School District special education department celebrated the WorkAbility I program Tuesday, Feb. 25, in the district’s conference center.

Everyone in attendance was there to celebrate the local employers, volunteers and students that work together to further the students’ skills and abilities in order to someday join the workforce.

Bridget Denton, a TVUSD transition specialist, welcomed everyone to the fifth event of its kind.

She recognized the job coaches in attendance, teachers, school psychologists and bus drivers that make the program possible.

Denton called up and recognized representatives from local businesses that partner with the program to provide job training positions for the students.

Businesses recognized include T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods; Oak Grove Center Culinary Creations; Temecula Valley Hospital; Temecula Elementary School; Holiday Retirement; Walgreens; 1909; Western Eagle Foundation; J. Carter’s Tavern Grill; Chick-Fil-A; Springhill Suites; Old Navy; Shred and Go; Holiday Inn Express; Pizza Factory; Armstrong Garden Centers; Angel View and Hank’s Hardware.

Then it was time to recognize the students who performed their duties outstandingly over the past year.

Teacher Kelly Ortiz talked about the two students that were nominated from her class along with the help of job coaches.

“They give it their all every time, even if there are skills that need to be developed, they’re always giving 100%,” she said. “They’re always doing it with a smile. They have a good time, they love working. For me, attitude is everything. Once you get past a positive attitude, you can accomplish any other skills that you need to.”

She recognized Travian Fitzgerald and Remy Montoya.

“One of my favorite job sites is Murrieta Marshalls because of the nice management,” Montoya told the crowd. “Thank you to Temecula Elementary and Marshalls for the opportunity to work for you. Thank you all for being here and I hope one to be hired by a company.”

Also recognized were students Abby Whitworth, Brett Bohm, Jake Couball, Aylin Verduzco Camacho and Michael Hicks.

“Thank you to our employers,” Hicks told the crowd. “Thank you for (teaching us) how to strip beds at Springhill, for stocking shoes and hanging clothes at T.J. Maxx, stocking candy at Walgreens, setting tables and cleaning popcorn machine at Chateau and sweeping at Armstrong. I will miss all of you, thank you.”

Also recognized were Elizabeth Bohm, Donovan Masters and David Norman by teacher Graham Wilson.

“The students today that we want to recognize have gotten to that level where they’ve shown us, ‘hey, I can handle this, and I can work without direct supervision at all times,’” Wilson said. “And our management at those companies allow that, and they want to encourage that to simulate what it’s like to work all the time.”

The ability to work independently has greatly encouraged Masters, he said.

“Armed with this knowledge, I will continue to find a job and forge ahead a new path to life,” he said. “It’s with my deepest, deep down within my heart, I praise to the Lord to thank all of you for this opportunity.”

Bohm said she learned a lot about independence.

“Knowing how to budget with money, to know how to be independent in the community,” she said. “Figuring out what to wear in an interview and going to an interview as well. Filling out an application to give information and knowing how to answer questions even though some were hard to answer.”

Norman said he’s really looking forward to being hired sometime soon.

“Thank you for the experience to hopefully get a job in the real world,” he said. “With this experience I can hopefully ace one of these interviews and get a real job with the experience in retail or restaurant. So, thank you for the opportunities.”

Denton said the students learn workplace readiness, how to develop resumes, learn interview skills and go to workshops on customer service, learning how to relate and interact in social situations with people.

The students are placed at local businesses that best fit their skill sets.

The program is looking for more businesses that would like to be involved in the lives of young people with learning disabilities to assist in training in order to enter the workforce.

Contact Denton at bdillon-denton@tvusd.k12.ca.us or Itza Chavira at ichavira@tvusd.k12.ca.us. For more information on the program, visit www.tvusd.k12.ca.us/Page/25657.

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at jpack@reedermedia.com.