For Marietta City Schools, making sure students have the opportunity to learn and thrive, no matter their ability, is a priority. The lab is empowering children with disabilities, through job and training.
A new learning lab is now open
As part of a program for our 18-22 year old students, Marietta City Schools is proud to partner with Apto Solutions to provide students the opportunity to develop the technical ability to disassemble computers for recycling. We are calling this program Mpower, which stands for “Marietta Promoting Opportunities for Work in the Real World.”
Student interns are developing “hard skills” by learning to work with new tools; learning how to follow a step-by-step process; learning how to sort materials in order to prepare them to be recycled; learning how to follow safety rules; and have learned a whole new vocabulary. Students who demonstrate an aptitude and interest in these tasks have the opportunity to pursue employment in this industry and further the development of these technical skills.
This program prepares students with disabilities for the workplace, helping them sharpen their soft skills is essential to their success. While hard skills are related to training for a specific job, soft skills are those interpersonal skills that all of us need to be successful on the job. Some of these soft skills include communication, taking initiative, teamwork, networking, problem solving, time management, critical thinking, and interpersonal skills.
According to a press release, Marietta High School and IT company Apto Solutions teamed up together for the lab. “The Apto/MPower Learning program was designed to help students transition into post-secondary life after high school and provide them with soft skills they need for lifelong employment,” the release said.
“In August, it was an empty classroom, and through a partnership, with Parallel Learning and Apto, we wanted to grow what’s now become a learning laboratory, so that our 18- to 22-year-olds can learn soft skills and learn the skills needed,” said “(Michele Sayles Harris, Chief of Special Services and Educational Support, Marietta City Schools.
Leaders said this program is modeled after a partnership between Blue Star Recyclers and Cherry Creek School District in Denver, Colorado. Right now, interns are disassembling laptops and cellphones for Apto Solutions.
“Apto is a company that offers recycling services to companies in the Atlanta area. They had a gap, unable to fill employment opportunities and recognized that some students with disabilities who are neuro-diverse might be able to learn the skills needed to become employable by Apto,” Sayles Harris said. “One of our state indicators, is to ensure that students with disabilities when they leave high school, don’t just go home and not become meaningful participants within society,” she said. “So, we wanted to be able to create employment opportunities by providing them training so that they can go out and gain those employment opportunities,” Sayles Harris said.
Educators are building employees now, for the future
“The purpose of this class is to provide our students who have finished all of their academic requirements, a chance to build those employability skills to transfer to whatever they choose to do after they leave us,” said Lisa Leiter, Transition Services Coordinator, Marietta City Schools. “They’ve completed their graduation requirements, but the purpose of this program is to help them reach transition goals,” she said.
The interns are also learning teamwork, time management, and other skills. Leaders said individuals in the program are also helping the planet. And no matter what students’ individual post-secondary employment goals are, soft skills will define their success and ability to maintain a job. Marietta City Scholls are committed to providing students with as many resources as possible to develop, maintain, and transfer both these “hard skills” and “soft skills” to their lives after graduation!
“The computers are actually recycled 100 percent, even down to a liquid that gets used for concrete,” said Shelbi Allen, Job Coach for MPower, Marietta High School, “So, I told them that they’re just not taking a part computer, that they’re saving the world,” she said.
Allen said once the items are picked up from the school, they are sent to different places all over the world. “For instance, the motherboard goes to Great Britain where they do melt down because there’s gold and and silver,” Allen said.
Students said they are happy to be a part of the program. “It helps me get me my plan after high school,” said Keylan Skipper, an intern in Mpower Program.
Officials with Marietta City Schools said they’re looking to expand what they offer inside of the lab. Next school year, they’re planning on partnering with more businesses to provide more opportunities for individuals in the program.
Read the original article at Atlanta News First
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