South San Francisco, CA January 31, 2017 Submitted by Maryanne Mathiesen
The South San Francisco Unified School District Adult Transition Program has been progressing in exciting and creative ways. This is a unique post high school program designed for students with disabilities ages 18 – 22 years old to further support educational opportunities, explore job possibilities, and continue to promote independent life skills. This 2016 – 2017 school year consists of 22 students and five Instructional Assistants: Lorry Greenberg, Jo Huerta, Maryanne Mathiesen, Ben Ortiz, Lau Seumaala and our AWESOME teacher, Ms. Grace Furci.
It has been our goal to prepare these students for life beyond this program with the tools and skills that could help them embrace an independent and successful future. What we could not have imagined is that our experiences together would put forth in motion a wave of joy and love throughout our school district and our community!
We have pioneered an in-house screen printing training program that helps to teach students the fundamentals of a business from start to finish. Each screen printing order we receive is a collaborative effort with staff and students to oversee all aspects of the screen printing process. Through this training program, students learn job skills and get a better understanding of the various aspects such as how much time, labor, costs, and final product presentation that go into creating a screen printed T-shirt. We have successfully printed shirts for clubs and classes within the School District and the San Mateo County of Education.
You may have seen us in the community at various job sites. Our program is partnered with companies such as Petco in Tanforan Mall, Staples on Noor Avenue, Sprouts, and Dave & Buster’s in Daly City. Our students work under the guidance of our Instructional Assistants and this is what the heart of our program all about – providing job opportunities with job is coaching to successfully train our students to work independently. Our fabulous Job Developer, Ms. Betty Wang, works tirelessly to secure different job sites throughout the South San Francisco, San Bruno and Daly City areas so that our students have opportunities to learn different job skills and experience places of possible employment. Our teacher, Mrs. Grace Furci, facilitates and prepares weekly schedules to expose all students to the various employment opportunities.
We were also able to introduce our very own organic vegetable and herb garden with lots of support from the School District Facilities Department including our own family and friends. This was extraordinary in that the students were able to witness the fruits of their labor by growing, weeding, pruning and watering our garden. We have positively changed the way students approach a healthy lifestyle. “From garden to table”, our students have relished the rewards that our garden has brought us. So much so that we have incorporated our own vegetables and herbs into our cooking projects.
The Special Olympics community continues to welcome us to participate and compete during the school year. Students enjoy games such as soccer, bowling, basketball, and track and field. The time and attention that goes into learning a new sport, training for it and participating is essential in the overall experiences each student receives. Our very own coach “Mr. B” (Ben Ortiz) positively teaches and prepares students for the sporting events. This gives our students an opportunity to practice life skills such as good sportsmanship, teamwork, socialization and a positive attitude.
Sewing, photography and painting have also been introduced into our program, and our students have excelled at these beautiful, expressive arts. The therapeutic stitch of our handmade quilt hangs proudly on our classroom wall. The 8×10 framed photograph of one of our student’s shoes is proudly draped with the white Honorable Mention ribbon from the recent South City Photography Exhibit. It clearly displays hope for all of us that anything is possible. But it is the gift we painted for our South City community that can be seen day and night at the corner of Mission Road and Evergreen Drive on a utility box. It expresses our attitude and feelings of “Pride”, “Diversity”, “Innovation” and “Dreams”, which remind each and every one of us that we create our own possibilities. We are an amazing work in progress!