Jan. 12, 2021 --
Finding meaningful, hands-on opportunities for high school students with developmental delays and disabilities to prepare for competitive employment is difficult. But it’s not impossible.
Heights High Job Coach Marty Mathews partnered with local manufacturer Stinger Golf Tees this fall to provide students in grades 10 through 12 who are enrolled in the district’s Job Training Program
with real world work experience. In normal times, students visit and participate in work at actual manufacturing sites and that was Mr. Mathews’ initial plan with Stinger Tees. Of course, COVID had other ideas.
Instead, the students learned about the company online and were instructed on how to package tees into boxes for sale. Special Education teachers worked with each student to create a list of steps using words, images, video and/or audio instruction. Mr. Mathews and fellow Career Tech Aide Kaylelea Stringfield delivered supplies to each student’s home and spent 15 minutes reviewing the procedures they had learned virtually.
“This really benefits the students,” said Mr. Mathews, “because they’re doing real work for a real customer.” The complex process involves counting out five tees, positioning them correctly, placing them in a small baggie tied with a red tie tab, placing them into a box, sticking a logo sticker on the box in the correct location, taping the box shut, and placing the correct number of smaller boxes into a larger box.
“Everything has to be done just right,” said Mr. Mathews who conducts quality control both virtually and again when he picks the boxes up for delivery. The tees are sold at Dick’s Sporting Goods stores and “a single mistake can cost the company up to $400. So quantity is important, but quality is too!”
Mr. Mathews has two other companies lined up for similar work and is arranging for his students to be paid a small stipend. “This kind of experience will help them secure meaningful employment after graduation,” he says.