Meet Isaac, a senior at Littleton High School. Isaac struggled with managing his academic frustrations and navigating social interactions. He had difficulty expressing his ideas, sustaining a task, maintaining focus and accepting the social rules in school. He grew angry and frustrated in social situations, sometimes reacting impulsively or becoming defiant. That’s when Isaac was accepted into IMPACCT AcademyTM. The program allowed Isaac to explore his passion for IT support while developing new approaches to overcome life’s challenges.
Coordinated through the IMPACCT program, Andy Mosedale of Mosedale Integrated Solutions brought Isaac onboard for a student work experience, providing Isaac with an exciting, well-rounded experience in his company. Andy and Isaac tackled everything from hardware issues to software management, on-site repairs and installations to marketing and customer service. His work experience provided him with opportunities to not only strengthen his technical skills, but also his interpersonal skills. Andy showed Isaac that the soft skills required in dealing with people were just as important, if not more so, than a technical skill set. His time in the workplace allowed him to capitalize on his strengths while finding ways to work through his challenges. Andy watched Isaac grow both personally and professionally, especially when “coming up against barriers and overcoming them”.
As a senior with set goals and a new sense of confidence, Isaac is now on track to graduate from high school in June of 2019 with plans to pursue his degree in Information Technology, possibly at WMCC or Lyndon State College. With the support of his NH Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, Lisa Beard, his teacher, Christopher Marks, the team at Littleton High School, GSIL’s IMPACCT Staff and Independent Living Coordinator, as well as his supportive parents, Isaac is on the path towards a bright future.
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), a time to celebrate the contributions of men and women with disabilities to the workforce in our country. GSIL has provided support and services to seniors and people with disabilities for over 35 years. Inspiring the Mastery of Post-Secondary Achievement in College, Career, and Training (IMPACCT) has offered those services at no cost to at-risk students with disabilities across New Hampshire for the past two years. Funded by NH Vocational Rehabilitation (NHVR), the NH Department of Education, and various grants, IMPACCT supports students as they transition out of high school. Students spend fourteen weeks under the guidance and care of Transition Specialists, who are trained through the NH Youth Practitioner Apprenticeship program. The IMPACCT Staff work closely with NHVR Counselors, GSIL Independent Living staff, school personnel, case managers and families to provide education and training to youth ages 16-21 enrolled in an educational setting. The past two years have proven invaluable to the many young adults, like Isaac, who have taken part in our program.
The IMPACCT AcademyTM focuses on five pre-employment transition services: job exploration counseling; work-based learning experiences; comprehensive transition program and post-secondary education; workplace readiness training, and instruction in self-advocacy. Through the state-approved curriculum, students earn high school credits through Extended Learning Opportunities (ELOs), the competency-based education that all NH school districts are moving towards implementing, while preparing for life after high school graduation. As of June 2018, 271 students from more than 70 high schools participated in a work experience and graduated from the IMPACCT AcademyTM, completing 1,615 ELOs and earning more than 700 academic credits. Over 99% of students have either graduated from high school or re-engaged in their education after completing the academy, the majority of whom had struggled with attendance in their home high schools.
Employers argue that programs designed to educate and train our youth effectively help create a skilled workforce. Employable candidates bring not only a set of hard skills to the organization, but an understanding of the soft skills necessary to be successful in any job, in any field. While training students in job exploration, self-advocacy, and work readiness, IMPACCT Specialists highlight daily character traits such as communication, teamwork, responsibility, flexibility, integrity, and time management. Each student completes the academy with a solid understanding of the career he wishes to pursue, a portfolio complete with a professional resume, cover letter, references and goals, as well as a network of continued support to assist him through the transition from high school student to value-added employee.
The Presidential Proclamation of 2015 states, “America is at its strongest when we harness the talents and celebrate the distinct gifts of all our people.” As we continue building a strong NH workforce, we must ensure that all Americans have access to the services and supports that enable them to work. IMPACCT provides access and support to those who are just preparing to enter the workforce, helping us to strengthen our labor force and our communities “from the ground up”. Students who participate in IMPACCT AcademyTM are provided with an on-ramp to success as they begin their transition from youth to adulthood. Granite State Independent Living is proud to be a partner in empowering ALL for America’s workforce.