Transition Tribune

2019 Semester 1, Edition 3

What you will find in this edition

This semester the Transition Tribune elective worked hard to put together the 3rd edition of the Transition Tribune. Isaiah, Nate and Sara wrote articles and interviewed staff and students while Ms. Del Bianco, Ms. Farrell, and Ms McCarthy guided them along and helped them edit their articles. In this edition you can read about the school dance, talent show, Thanksgiving Feast, community outings, a student obtaining competitive employment, and about some of our amazing staff.

Transition Happenings

Transition Dance by Sara Evans

Transition students all came together on October 4th for the 9th annual Transition Dance. This year’s theme was Masquerade. They played a lot of songs, but the song I liked most was Bohemian Rhapsody. My favorite thing to do at the dance was hang out with friends and talk to them. The dance was super fun. I hung out with Nate, Ariel, Dylan, and Jen. This was my second dance. I enjoyed the dance because I was able to dance with my friends. It was cool to see my teachers, Ms Farrell, and Ms McCarthy. It would be awesome if there were two dances a year.

Feast by Isaiah Tupas

The Transition Feast is always held on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. The Transition Feast was held at Christ Lutheran Church in the gymnasium. The gymnasium was set up with many tables and chairs. Spoons, forks, napkins, bingo chips, and tablecloths were set on the tables when we got there. Tables included centerpieces crafted by Transition students. Mr. Ruhl and Ms. Sheppard were in charge of the Bingo game. Some of the food served at the feast was turkey, sides, vegetables, bread, drinks, and desserts. While staff and volunteers prepared the food, the students played Bingo. We all sat at tables and socialized with our friends while playing Bingo. Students who win at bingo got a prize. When the food is ready, staff allow tables of students to go up to receive their food. Some special guests that come to the feast are the work supervisors from Parkview Christian Church and Walgreens. We really enjoy the time we have to socialize with our friends and staff. After students have eaten their lunch, we then get served dessert.

Community outings by Nate Cracco

My favorite community outing was our train trip to Union Station to learn about travel training. When we got to Union Station, we bought our ticket home and then had lunch. It was fun to go there and to hang out with my friends. After we ate we were allowed to walk up the stairs and see the Chicago River.I would like to go on this field trip again because it was fun to take the train and have lunch downtown. In the future, I would like to go on a community outing to the Museum of Science and Industry. I have been there before but am interested to see what new things they have now. Another suggestion I have is a community outing to Jump Zone because I haven't been there yet and I hear that it is a lot of fun. When we go on field trips we learn how to budget money, use public transportation, and interact with others in public. Sometimes we go on community outings as a reward for meeting our PBIS school-wide goals. PBIS rewards are given to students who have had good behavior and for following the Transition Tools.

The Holiday Shoppe by Isaiah Tupas

The Holiday Shoppe was held on December 10, 2019, in the Big Room.

Mrs. Wiley is in charge of the Holiday Shoppe. The Holiday Shoppe was open from 10 A.M. to 1:30 P.M. Students from Vocational classes created Christmas craft products for the shop. They sold Christmas wreaths, ornaments, pine cone ornaments, candles, and blankets. They also served desserts and coffee with a variety of creamers. Students in Pod East worked at the Holiday Shoppe to practice their job skills. Many students shopped for items for their friends, family, and/or staff members. The Holiday Shoppe was run by Transition students, even the cashier Tables were also set up to give shoppers a place to sit down and enjoy their snacks and drinks.

Transition Staff Gives Thanks

Transition Staff were asked to submit a note about what they are thankful for this year.....

I am thankful for all the wonderful people God put in my life.

To my work "Sisters"... (you know who you are!) Thank you for listening, sharing and caring. Thank you for sometimes making me laugh so hard I can't breathe and mascara runs down my face and makes me laugh even harder. Thank you for always respecting our differences and celebrating what ties us together. Thank you--- each of you, for being wonderful blessings in my life. I love you girls.

I am thankful for a wonderful UTM Team (Universal Team Meeting Tier 1): Erin Birmingham, Amanda Del Bianco, Lynn Mastrud, Stephanie Sichelski, and Denise Vredeveld. You help this program be consistent through your hard work and dedication. Thank you.

I am thankful for my new friends and family at Transition.

I am thankful for my classroom staff. For the last 2 1/2 years we have been short-handed and together we made the days less crazy. Thank You Doreen! Thank You Sheryl! Thank You Taelor! Thank You Sherry! Thank You Eileen!

I am thankful for the Advanced Tier Team: Nancy Bugaieski, Pete Faulkner, Michele Gallardo, Sarah Hull, Kathy Walczak, and Jill Wallace, for your honesty, hard work, and going the extra mile.

I am grateful for the many staff members who help make my job easier by simply checking in with me when they are unfamiliar with a student's health concerns. This shows me how much they care and makes me feel comfortable with leaving the student in their care. I try to thank people often, but if I missed anyone just know that you are appreciated more than you know.

I am Thankful for the students at Transition because they bring me true joy everyday I come to work. If I happen to start the day in a bad way, it instantly changes when I come here.Thank you transition for being you.

Erin Birmingham -

For all her perseverance and creativity in the midst of several challenging situations at one time! Thanks for your caring!

Stephanie De Carlo! She takes out our students in the worst weather (it always seems!) and always does it with a positive attitude and a smile on her face. I am so grateful for the Jens. Both are very understanding and really take time to listen. I am grateful for their support in helping me fix my driving problems. I am very grateful for the students. They are awesome and I love getting to know them. I still can't name all of the students by name, but I am getting there.

The student I work with. He comes to school motivated everyday wanting to do or say things to people to "Make their Day! I get to help him being successful at doing that. It makes me very happy! The people I have met here and became friends with. Honestly, transition has become way more than a job for me.

I am thankful for all my TEAM EAST teammates! Couldn't do it without the team!

Having a great team of people to work with!

I am thankful for Maria Casebeer for helping me this year and last school year.

My supportive classroom staff: Amy Greenspan and Sue McCarthy!

Shirley Lamping for stepping in and helping out while I was out, as well as for all the work she has done for advanced tiers!!!

My Paras- Joan for always going beyond what is expected, Marge for keeping me sane, and Ron for cleaning and providing humor.

My students- For always entertaining me and giving me a reason to thrive to be a better teacher everyday.

I am thankful for our Voc Coordinators. They each wear so many hats and support students and staff in so many ways! They are awesome!

I am thankful for my outstanding homeroom and POD students who are supportive and caring to staff and one another. I am also thankful for the people I work with… work staff and students really are my second family.

All is new to me this year. I have felt welcomed, accepted, and appreciated. Brandon Wigboldy has co-lead groups with me. Shirley Lamping helps me keep a lid on it all!

The WONDERFUL staff who is always supportive!

Thankful for all of my Pod West team.

I am thankful for Kate and Mary Jo for being an excellent team to work with at MVCC.

I am thankful for everyone here at transition. This is my 1st year here and I have been given such a warm welcome. THANK YOU!

I am forever thankful to all the wonderful Paraprofessionals that we have. Without support staff our jobs as teachers would be much more difficult. Having paraprofessionals allow us to do our jobs better for our students. In particular I am the most thankful for Cindy McCarthy. She has been supportive to me and my students since the day I started at Transition. She has wonderful ideas which have been very beneficial for students. Last year she recommended a student shadow a Para as a job site since that student's goal was to one day become a para. This year she thought of using a stick with a finger on it so that another student could independently use it to push the buttons on the elevator. This is just a small example of what she does. She is an exceptional paraprofessional and friend.

I am thankful for our new staff this year!

Kathy Walczak for always brightening my day!

I am thankful for our awesome students who teach me patience and flexibility all in a positive way. I’m thankful for co-workers who lending a helping hand when needed and do so instinctively. I feel blessed beyond measure to part of this wonderful team. I am thankful for Cara Brown who has been there to assist me in various tech issues regarding my access to do current evaluations.

Ms. Mohammed...what a difference she is making here at transition! I love her great ideas and she is always a great help.

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A Competitively Employed Transition Student

My training job at Southwest Transition was at Parkview Christian Church. In the first few weeks, I got to know the main supervisor at my jobsite. We vacuumed the floors in the auditorium and in the balcony. Then, I cleaned the windows around the building and sometimes in the offices. I also vacuumed the floors at the chapel. I learned how to use the green floor cleaner on large spaces in the auditorium. We set up and put back tables and chairs in every room around the building. I also learned to use the floor scrubbers around the building and it worked out well. I started coming to work without a job coach on Fridays. I then also began to volunteer on the weekends. Other jobs that I learned how to do include taking out the garbage, cleaning bathrooms, mopping floors, and using a water extractor on soft chairs. I became known as one of the best student workers. I also learned how to communicate with other student workers to discuss job tasks around the building.

Ms. McCarthy was my job coach on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. She helped me find a way to get my job done and apply what I learned. She communicated with me as well as other student workers on what we can do to complete our jobs quickly and efficiently. We also improvised a new plan to complete the tasks given by our supervisor. She made my job as easy as it gets. She evaluated me and indicated that my job performance as extremely excellent. She also gave me a lot of great compliments.

On my second year at Transition, Mrs. Sichelski told me that Parkview Christian Church was hiring. They offered me a position as a part-time facilities team member. After I applied for the job, I went on an interview and answered questions about Parkview Christian Church. My interview was on September 11, 2019. I arrived 15 minutes before my job interview started. I wore khaki pants and a dress shirt. I wanted to make a good impression and show them that I really wanted the job. On October 2, 2019, Mrs. Sichelski and I went to an on-board meeting It was recommend that I download the Paycom app and the When I Work app. Paycom shows me where I can clock in and out and record my hours. The When I Work app shows me the work schedule, and when I start my shift. My first shift was on October 7, 2019. I mopped floors in the kitchen, lunchrooms, and the bathrooms in the school area. After mopping, I took out the garbage around the building. On the weekends, we dispose the communion cups in the auditorium. This is how I got unforgettable job experiences as a Facilities Team Member at Parkview Christian Church.

Mr. Bortscheller, Mrs. Sichelski, and Mrs. Brown help students get competitive jobs. They do this by surveying students’ knowledge of jobs and job training skills. The vocational coordinators make announcements of companies that are hiring. Transition students are encouraged to apply for a position if they are interested. Some students sign up to see Mrs. Sichelski to go over the job positions from the companies that are hiring. Once students get a job, they may attend a meeting to discuss their new job duties. At some competitive jobs, students could earn a raise for excellent and efficient work. Once students obtain competitive employment, students report their competitive work hours on the clipboard in Ms. Sichelski’s office weekly.

Spotlight on some Transition staff

Interviews with 3 of Transition's awesome job coaches

Mrs. Golcher

Ms. Golcher has been job coaching for 14 years now and has been with our co op for 21 years. One of her job sites is Together We Cope. Ms. Golcher stated "It gives me such joy to see my students work in an environment that helps so many less fortunate people and they really are made to feel like they make a tremendous difference in their lives." Her funniest Job Coaching moment was at the Burger King in Orland Park. She had the students help senior citizens with mobility issues carry their trays of food sometimes and once she was helping out and a lady said “Oh look, now Burger King has waitresses.! “.

Ms. Goodrich

Ms. Goodrich is in her 14th year of job coaching. One of the biggest challenges Ms. Goodrich reported is making sure students understand what is required of them in order to succeed. The best part about job coaching is when a student becomes competitively employed. The funniest moment she has had while job coaching was when a student stepped on the hose and got all of them wet.

Ms. Kirkland has been a job coach for three years. She loves being with the students and being able to teach them something that can make them successful when they leave Transition. The biggest challenge Ms. Kirkland has faced as a job coach is building trust with the student, letting them know that she is trying to help them be successful.

Transition's Vocational Coordinator's

Cara Brown - Transition's Newest Vocational Coordinator

How long does it take to coordinate student jobs? (Answer given by both Mrs. Brown and Mr. Bortscheller) It usually takes Mr. Bortscheller and I a couple of weeks to schedule students at work training sites. We look at student interest surveys, past jobs, and recommendations. Then we have to contact all of the employers to determine their availability before we can start matching students to training sites. However before this happens it also takes a couple weeks for students to complete surveys and to go over the surveys and match students interest it usually takes us the month of January to get jobs planned for February for second Semester. But all semester long we are thinking about adding jobs visiting job sites and laying the groundwork for next semester. We also take some notes on student interest when they come in and talk to us, to help us place them for next semester.

How do you find new job sites? When looking for new job sites I talk to students about interests and places they might want to work. I then look at where different businesses are located by doing a google search. Sometimes when I am visiting students at a work-site I will see what other businesses are nearby and stop in and introduce myself.

What new job sites do we have this year? Next semester we will be adding TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Aurelios, D.A.'s Deli, and the DRS Office as new sites.

Tom Bortscheller

How hard is it to come up with the schedule for the Van Drivers? It is very time consuming to come up with the first schedule when jobs are going there are a lot of factors to consider like how many students are going to the job sites, how close sites are together, are they getting off at similar times. You have to take these into consideration when planning so everyone fits on a van and drivers pick up sites close to each other. When the daily masters get done it's a lot easier but there are always constant changes. There are field trips, drivers need days off, students and teachers request rides to different places all the time and the schedule needs to get constantly shifted. We also have to share our transportation sometimes with our fellow South West Coop schools and then we are down and driver for the day and once again time to shift the schedule.

How many job sites do we offer? We had 53 in and off campus jobs last semester including duplicate sites.

Mrs. Sichelski

How do you help students who want to apply for a job? I start with having students take home an availability sheet so we have the correct information for applications. Some students know exactly where they want to apply and I have a student computer in my office to complete applications. Other students know what kind of work they’re looking for and that’s the focus more so than the location. After the application is complete, I also help students with follow-up calls, interview practice, writing thank you cards after an interview, or providing a reference.

How many students in Transition are working competitively? Currently 25

How hard is it for students to obtain competitive employment? It’s tough. You’ve up against everyone else. It’s not like the training jobs that are assigned to you. What I see holding a lot of students back is wanting that training site schedule and not having a more open availability. Apply several places and keep your options open.

How can I find out who is hiring for a competitive job? I try and send out some notices to the case managers, but certainly there are many more. You can also search job posting websites such as Indeed or Glassdoor. Job fairs are another way to not only find out who’s hiring but get a ‘mini’ interview. Some businesses will have hiring signs posted in their window. And don’t forget the importance of networking. Check in with family and friends to see if they know of a position.

Transition Trivia

  1. How many Transition Feasts have there been?
  2. This year will be the ___ annual Transition Talent Show?
  3. How many years have Ms. Wlordarski and Ms. Lucas worked at Transition?
  4. Which staff member has been at Transition the longest?
  5. Name a Lock-in Traditional activity?
  6. How many job coaches do we have at Transition?
  7. Where was the first Transition program located?
  8. How many staff work at Transition?
  9. Name one of the student editors for this issue of the Transition Tribune?
  10. What are the three Transition Tools?

Trivia Answers

1. This year was the 19th Transition Feast

2. This was the 15th annual Transition Talent Show

3. Ms. Wlordarski has been the Transition principal for 9 years. Ms. Lucas has been the Assistant Principal at Transition for 3 years.

4. Ms. Sheppard is the Transition staff member that has worked here the longest.

5. Two traditional lock-in activities that the students and staff love are musical chairs and pie the teacher in the face.

6. 52

7. In a strip mall near 147th and Pulaski

8. 103

9. Isaiah Tupas, Nate Cracco, Sara Evans

10. Be Safe, Be Responsible, Be Respectful