Funny cap in place, a young man takes the stage to receive his diploma, officially making him a member of the Falls High School graduating class of 2015.
Jared Bartkowski and his twin brother may have graduated together but, one will be venturing off to college while the other returns to FHS.
18-year-old Jared will return to FHS until he is 21, as part of the reignited special education student-in-transition program through the Occupational Development Center (ODC).
For the next three years, Jared will continue to learn life and employment skills that will help him become as independent as possible.
Jared, who has a multiple diagnosis of cerebral palsy, epilepsy, ADD, speech apraxia and mental impairment, is the first student to take part in the revived student-in-transition program.
“The student-in-transition program focuses on activities that will help a student with special needs be safe and as independent as possible,” said International Falls Division Coordinator for ODC, Jenell Feller. “Each student is different so, the skills that are being taught may vary based on their ability. Ideally, each student would have the opportunity to learn and develop a variety of work skills in the school environment or the community.”
Upon entering the program, Jared began working a few hours every week at the Koochiching County Law Enforcement Center learning skills that he would later take with him to a more challenging site, SuperOne Foods.
“I learned how to sweep, vacuum, clean bathrooms and how to tie garbage bags,” said Jared. “I work with nice people.”Jared works one on one with ODC Job Coach, Connie Jensen to learn new skills associated to with his position with his employer.
Jared works one on one with ODC Job Coach, Connie Jensen to learn new skills associated to with his position with his employer.
“Jared’s willingness to learn and to do this is just remarkable,” Connie said proudly.
In just five months, some guidance and maybe a bribe or two, the pair developed a routine that has allowed Jared to develop more independence.
Jared’s mother and ODC Board Member, Julie Bartkowski is beyond proud of the progress her son has shown.
“It’s very rewarding knowing that he is learning how to better interact with the community so that he may work towards independence,” Julie said. “ODC took the time to learn about Jared and placed him somewhere that he could grow. They provide first class job coaches and access to a work environment where Jared could be successful.”
Even though Jared is not attending college with his brother, the Bartkowski’s are excited to see him continue reaching his full potential.
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