South San Francisco, CA December 6, 2017 Submitted by Maryanne Mathieson, SSFUSD ATP – Paraeducator II
More and more high school students with disabilities are planning to continue their education in postsecondary schools, including vocational and career programs offered by the school district. The South San Francisco Unified School District Adult Transition Program (SSFUSD ATP) is one of these programs.
The SSFUSD ATP assists and supports students with disabilities with job skills and life skills beyond their high school experience until they are 22 years old. It is the ultimate goal of the SSFUSD ATP to help prepare a student with the necessary tools for a successful transition into the community upon completion. It is a challenging, yet rewarding experience. When a student excels in his/her job skills, life skills or both, it makes everything we do as educators worth it.
We are so proud and excited to showcase a student who is about to exit our program this December 21, 2017 – Our very own, Ms. Ashley Barredo.
In 2013, Ashley was enrolled in SSFUSD ATP. She entered ATP very, very quietly. Ashley was extremely shy to her new environment. Although she knew several of her classmates, Ashley felt uncomfortable and did not know what to expect from the program. It took time, as does anything, and patience. Through games and community outings, Ashley developed friendships and rapports with staff and students. While work was an important aspect of the program for Ashley, it was the socialization that helped her to feel more comfortable and engage with the daily activities that ATP has to offer.
While attending ATP, Ashley was able to attend Skyline College classes with support and encouragement. She also acquired job skills through our workability job sites such as retail merchandise organization, facing and blocking shelves at grocery and retail stores, and most recently data entry at a local funeral business. Ashley has a very good understanding of job requirements and expectations and continues to impress us with her ability to learn.
SSFUSD ATP is also a haven for encouraging students to pursue their career passions. Through our program, students can work toward their dream work goal. Once a plan is in place, ATP is in partnership through Transition Partnership Program with Department of Rehabilitation to help finance costs incurred to reach the student’s work goal. Ashley has been the recipient of not one, but two Zumba licenses while attending the program and is in pursuit of a third license which she hopes to achieve in 2018.
With the love, support and guidance of her grandma, Pricillia “Pia” Barredo, Ashley pursued her first license in Zumba, but not before she tried many other outlets. Ashley tried many possibilities such as dance and art before finding Zumba. Once Ashley realized that Zumba was her passion, she practiced and practiced with the help and encouragement of her Zumba mentor, Jelina Enriquez DiBenedetto until she felt comfortable enough to try her first license which she received on April 2, 2016. ATP partnered up with schools, Los Cerritos Elementary and Ponderosa Elementary, to give Ashley an outlet to teach Zumba on Fridays to elementary students. It was a successful endeavor for both parties as students enjoyed the opportunity to exercise to music and Ashley learned to be more comfortable with large crowds. Ashley received her second Zumba Gold License on September 17, 2017.
Currently, Ashley teaches to broader audiences on Mondays from 6:30 PM – 8:00 PM and occasionally subs on other days at Peninsula Place Recreation Room in San Bruno. She also comes every Tuesdays at SSFUSD ATP from 1:30 – 2:00 PM. She continues to push herself to reach her higher goals and be a better Zumba instructor. SSFUSD ATP is very proud of her achievements and would like to share her inspiring story.
It is not the disabilities that stop us from reaching our goals; it is the abilities that inspire us despite the hurdles each of us experiences. We are so very proud of our Ms. Ashley Barredo and look forward to her bright future.