Lackawanna College prepares students with disabilities for college and career
HAZLETON, Pa. – November 27, 2018 – Lackawanna College’s Hazleton Center, the Hazleton Area School District, and the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) have collaborated to offer a program that will improve college and career readiness for students with intellectual disabilities.
The Adult Students Preparing for Individual and Realistic Endeavors (ASPIRE) program was created by the Lackawanna College Hazleton Center and the Hazleton Area School District in 2016, and the pilot program launched in spring 2017. This fall, the program received approval for the next five years.
“Integrating our students with special needs with their typical peers in a college setting has been a dream of ours for many years. It is amazing to see the progress students can make when they are supported and given the chance to experience different environments,” said Angela Avillion, HASD Transition Liaison for the Hazleton Area Career Center. “The community support for the ASPIRE program has been outstanding. Our goal is for all people with special needs to be employed in a community setting where they are happy and can prosper.”
For students with disabilities, the transition from high school to post-secondary education and into a career can be challenging. The program’s dual enrollment pathway links K-12 and post-secondary academics and career preparation with flexible learning opportunities. This strategy helps students with disabilities earn college credits and set college and career goals.
The ASPIRE program is designed to let Hazleton Area High School students with learning disabilities remain in high school past the age of 18, allowing them to work toward the completion of a standard high school diploma while earning college credit.
“We want to make sure that students with disabilities are not left behind,” said April Harris-Snyder, Lackawanna College Hazleton Center Director. “With the ASPIRE program, we can give students the knowledge and skills they need to compete in the workforce, participate in post-secondary educational opportunities, and lead independent lives.”
The program aims to engage youth with intellectual disabilities and help them make connections between the classroom and their future goals. ASPIRE also provides students with the opportunity to participate in community programs, job shadow, and gain work experience in their areas of interest. These experiences are designed to develop workplace readiness, independent living, and self-advocacy skills.
“It’s important for the school and community to come together to benefit the future outlook of all our students. Students with disabilities want to work, and with the proper training they can be a business’s greatest asset,” said Gino Molino, Transition Liaison for the Hazleton Area School District.
Enrollment for the ASPIRE program for the 2019-20 school year is open now. For more information, or to enroll, please reach out to the Hazleton Area School District Transition Liaisons.