Minisink Valley High School offers a unique program for students with special needs designed to help develop the necessary skills for success in the workplace.
The program, called the Career Achievement Program (CAP) focuses on developing higher level vocational skills and hands-on learning through in-house employment opportunities. It’s been in place at the high school since September 2002 and run by teachers Ilka Peters and Christine Ertola.
“We focus on teamwork, communication, safety, problem solving, workplace ethics/professionalism, time and organizational management, attitude and demeanor and enhanced communication skills,” said Mrs. Ertola. “These are very important skills for anyone to master.”
$1,000 grant provides seed money
This school year, CAP students are launching a new enterprise called “MV Green,” their version of a new entrepreneurial business, which is scheduled to open in early November. Minisink Valley was selected for a $1,000 grant from the New York State Division of Career Development and Transition (NYSDCDT), which will be used to acquire the wide variety of crafts and plants students are selling. The grant proposal was written by Patricia Irwin, the district’s supervisor of special education.
MV Green’s intent, said Mrs. Ertola, is to teach students customer service, social, communication and time management skills.
“We have to learn how to run a small business by learning customer service, learn how to work with money and making sure that we do not run out of supplies,” said student Andrew Cesarz.
Student Jonathan Ortiz agreed, stressing: “MV Green helps students to become independent and hard working.”
Completely aligned with state standards
Successful understanding of these skills is part of CAP’s learning standards, which are aligned with New York State Career Development standards:
- Career development: Being knowledgeable about the world of work, exploring career options and related personal skills, aptitudes and abilities to future career decisions.
- Integrated learning: Demonstrating how academic knowledge and skills are applied in the workplace and other settings.
- Universal foundation skills: Demonstrating mastery of the foundation skills and competencies essential for workplace success.
“The MV Green program is one of many areas within the high school where CAP students have a chance to refine and perfect these important skills,” said Mrs. Ertola. “Students also work in the cafeteria, athletics office, main office, buildings and grounds and with the district’s Backpack Program. They have opportunities to see a wide range of careers and how skills are applied in the workplace. They’re seeing and realizing that proficiency in these skills are critical to be successful in any workplace. The staff in these areas have been so welcoming and accommodating.”
MV Green’s hours of operation are: 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. for students and staff and their “shop” is located at Room 122. Community members interested in making purchases can contact Mrs. Ertola directly. Succulent plants will be on sale for $5, and she added they make great gifts.
‘For me, it helps me get ready for a real job!’
Students also love the idea of selling plants and what those sales mean.
“The MV green program helps the students by learning how to take care of plants” added Andrew. “We have to transfer them from one pot to another, water them, and make sure they have proper sunlight.”
Student William Lachenal added: “MV Green teaches the students job skills and money skills. For me, it helps me get ready for a real job!”
Students and teachers are looking forward to CAP’s new business venture.
“This is a new undertaking for CAP,” said Mrs. Ertola. “The students feel really good about what they’re doing and getting a lot of support from our high school community.”
Anyone interested in purchasing MV Green products can reach out to Mrs. Ertola at: firstname.lastname@example.org