Laker Transitions Newsletter

August 2022

Welcome Back ~

Hello All ~

We look forward to seeing everyone at Laker Transitions in the coming weeks. Summer seems to have flown by as it seemingly always does. We have been hard at work making new plans and coming up with fun ideas for all of our students in the coming year.

This issue will highlight our Open House, Ribbon-Cutting ceremony, and final days last school year. I thought it would be a great way to catch you all up and to get you thinking about helping your young adult get ready for the start of the new school year.

We gave special education staff from Moorhead High School a tour of Laker Transitions last May. They were awestruck and envious of our building, location, programs, and support from our administration. They would like to emulate our program in Moorhead. Love it!

Be on the lookout in future newsletters for information on Project SEARCH which we will begin Fall 2023 in collaboration with Essentia Health, Vocational Rehabilitation, Becker County Human Services, and Blue Sky Inc. It is a wonderful program and we are excited to begin the planning process this school year.

As always, please reach out if you have questions or comments. We look forward to welcoming visitors so stop in when you are in our neighborhood. We love company.

Wendy Fritz, PAES Lab/Transition Facilitator

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From the Classroom

Wow, what an amazing and eventful school year it was! Our final month was jam-packed with activities, and our young adults loved each and every challenge they were presented with. Some of these challenges included job interviews, volunteering independently, and our long-awaited Open House and Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony.

Our themes for May were “Wash, Dry, Fold, Repeat” and “Restaurant Skills.” We explored differences between different choices in detergents and softeners, toured a laundromat, sorted clothes in various ways, and discussed different washing instructions.

Students voted on which restaurant they would like to go to on the last day of school and chose Zorbaz! Prior to going, we looked at a menu and calculated how much money we would need to bring with us, including a tip. Students practiced ordering for themselves and getting their own plates, forks, and beverages. For some of our students, this was the first time they’d eaten at a restaurant in years (thanks, COVID). Everyone seemed to thoroughly enjoy the experience, as well as their food. One of our students even learned something new about themselves: they were NOT a fan of jalapenos!

On May 19th, we held our Open House and ribbon cutting ceremony. Students and staff alike worked hard to ensure our space was warm and welcoming to all who attended. Our event went off without a hitch, and we were so proud of our students and their ability to discuss our wonderful space and answer various questions posed by our guests. As always, Laker Transitions has an open-door policy for any visitors who perhaps missed the open house and would like a tour of our wonderful building!

Some other highlights:

  • We hosted the seniors who will be joining us this coming school year. Congrats to seniors on their graduation! We’re excited to have them join us.

  • We received some awesome equipment for our recreation and leisure room. My personal favorite is our new hydro-row machine!

  • We got our tower garden up and running with some vegetables planted. We’re so excited to fully enjoy this wonderful opportunity throughout the school year.

  • We were able to tour an apartment building and learn about rent, utilities, and maintenance.

  • Kaitlyn and Erian BOTH got part-time jobs at the wonderful Pelican Landing here in Detroit Lakes. Erian was a server and Kaitlyn was in charge of sanitization of fitness equipment and other general cleaning maintenance. They both have fulfilled their job requirements and are awaiting school to begin again so they can search for new job opportunities.

  • Ian continues to work at TEAM Industries. He says he still really likes his job and is loving his paychecks.

  • Carina was excited to practice her recreation and leisure skills with her family over the summer. She planned on eating lots of tacos - her favorite!

  • Aubrianna planned to continue volunteering at the Humane Society of the Lakes and spend time with family.

  • Alora graduated from Laker Transitions and is onto her next big adventure of working with the DAC. Congratulations, Alora! We are so excited for this next chapter of your life!

Our first year together officially came to a close. Wow, what an adventure it has been. Our young adults began the year with no furniture and limited supplies. They’ve seen our wonderful space come together, just like when one moves away from “home” and gets an apartment of their own. We’ve decided what supplies we needed to furnish our kitchen, hospitality area, laundry and shower rooms, and more. We’ve unpacked, assembled, inventoried, and so much more. It was a wonderful experience for our students to see our space come together over time. Everyone who visits Laker Transitions has commented on the wonderful atmosphere that surrounds them and that could not be possible without our always-optimistic students and staff.

One more quick thank-you to everyone who helped our students in each and every way last year. Community members, social workers, county case managers, mental health support staff, occupational therapists, vocational rehabilitation, paraprofessionals, parents and families… We could not have done this without all of you!

To our readers: We are so excited for the upcoming school year and all of the adventures our students, staff, and community will embark on together. Hope you have enjoyed your summer. It was fast!

Amber Colby, Transitions Teacher

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PAES Lab Corner

The PAES Lab had a busy year! We learned so much about all of the 300 possible jobs there are to perform in the Lab.

We hosted the DL Chamber's HR Connect meeting last May. Our local business HR reps saw what we are doing in the PAES Lab and began the thought process of how they could include jobs from their sites in our PAES Lab to help our students be job-ready!

We are looking forward to our new students who will be joining us in the PAES Lab this Fall. It was very interesting watching the students learn new skills and build on those skills while realizing they DO like certain jobs they never thought they would!

Please stop in this Fall if you are interested in seeing the PAES Lab at work. Our students will explain how the PAES Lab is benefitting them and how they can use these skills out in the community in a part-time job.

Open House Thursday, May 19th 10:00am - 5:30pm

What an amazing day we had! It started out with the Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony and continued on with tours throughout the entire day. I think we closed up shop about 6p that night after our last visitor had driven away. Our students blew away the visitors with their knowledge of our programs and ability to lead tours. We had such a great day - we may have another Open House this coming school year ~ It is so rewarding to invite the community in to see the great things our students are accomplishing!!
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Project SEARCH

Detroit Lakes Public Schools was fortunate to receive the Life and Vocational Skills Grant from the Minnesota Department of Education in order to institute a Project SEARCH in Detroit Lakes.

Project SEARCH Transition-to-Work program is a unique, business-led, one school year employment preparation program that takes place entirely at the workplace.Total workplace immersion facilitates a seamless combination of classroom instruction, career exploration, and hands-on training through worksite rotations. The program culminates in individualized job development.

The goal for our program participants is competitive, integrated employment. To reach that goal, the program provides real-life work experience combined with training in employability and independent living skills to help young adults (ages 18 - 21) with disabilities make successful transitions to productive adult lives. The Project SEARCH model involves an extensive period of skills tranining and career exploration, innovative adaptations, long-term job coaching, and continuous feedback from teachers, skills trainers, and employers. As a result, at the completion of the training program, young adults with disabilities are employed in nontraditional, complex and rewarding jobs. In addition, the presence of a Project SERACH program can bring about long-term changes in business culture that have far-reaching positive effects on attitudes about hiring people with disabilites and the range of jobs in which they can be successful.

Karen Nudell, Director of Special Education, and I were able to attend the Project SEARCH National Convention in Baltimore in July thanks to the grant monies we were awarded. Also attending was Maureen Lilleby from Vocational Rehabilitation - we learned so much! The conference welcomed Project SEARCH team members from around the United States as well as Scotland, Iceland, Australia, Canada and other international locations. It was an amazing conference and really got us excited for our new program!

Stay tuned for updates throughout the school year on our progress!

Project SERACH team members from Minnesota!

Until Next Month ~

Take a peek at the upcoming Fall Community Education catalog for a section on class offerings for adults with disabilities and sign up! Classes will be held monthly on the third Tuesday from 3:00pm - 5:30pm. Community Education is always looking for anyone interested in teaching a class. Call the Community Ed office: 218-847-4418 and let them know what classes you would like to offer for our adults with disabilities.

Looking forward to welcoming you all back to Laker Transitions this Fall - September will be here before we blink!