The School-to-Work Transition Program (STWTP) is composed of three separate but highly related programs — the Community Assessment Training Program (CATP), On-the-Job Training/Education (OJT/E), and the Employment Training Program (ETP) — that are devoted to the development of federally mandated employment readiness for our students with special needs. The programs are described below.
The Community Assessment Training Program (CATP) currently comprises more than 20 worksites during the school year and two to three worksites during the summer as part of the extended school year (ESY) program. Each site has one special education teacher assigned and one or more education assistants. The students learn the "hard skills" or the "how to" of the specific jobs, and they receive instruction in the "soft skills" of employment such as professionalism, handling conflicts, and effective communication. CATP has one children's health assistant assigned to the program to support the programming of our most medically fragile students. The STWTP is also supported by a school social worker, an important resource for STWTP students, families, and schools.
CATP has a long and successful history with our existing sites. Some of our community partners have been involved with the STWTP since its inception 23 years ago, and they continue to provide our students with a wide variety of work assessment opportunities. Our current community partner worksites are the following:
- Alverno College
- Ascension Columbia St. Mary's Hospital
- Ascension SE Wisconsin at Mayfair Road (Wauwatosa)
- Ascension SE Wisconsin Hospital – St. Joseph Campus
- Aurora Sinai Medical Center
- Hawthorne Glen Nature Center
- Hilton Garden Inn
- Lakefront Brewery
- Milwaukee Catholic Home
- Milwaukee Public Market
- Milwaukee VA Medical Center (Zablocki)
- Mitchell Elementary School
- Mitchell International Airport (part of Project SEARCH)
- MPS Central Services – Cafe
- MPS Central Services – Clerical
- MPS Facilities and Maintenance (Highland)
- MPS Facilities and Maintenance (7th Street Garage)
- MPS Specialized Services Center – Cafe
- MPS Specialized Services Center – Environmental and Clerical
- Nurturing Nook
- River Trail Elementary School
- Village at Manor Park
- Vision Forward
CATP supports approximately 200 students with special needs per semester in worksite opportunities. All areas of disability are represented. The students receive high school elective credit for their participation. The students report to sites five times per week for the semester and follow the traditional school-year calendar. The majority of CATP students are bused between home/school and worksites, although the STWTP trains students identified as viable candidates for mobility training in the use of public transportation.
The On-the-Job Training/Education (OJT/E) program typically employs students each semester during the school year. All students enrolled in OJT/E are recommended by transition coordinators, CATP teachers, or IEP (individualized education program) teachers. The students receive high school elective credit for their participation. Students are paid minimum wage. Students must be able to use public transportation or provide their own transportation.
The Employment Training Program (ETP) provides support to students ages 18–21 who are recommended for their participation because of successful CATP assessments and more highly developed job-readiness skills. The students receive high school elective credit for their participation. ETP specialists work with individuals, businesses, agencies, corporations, and associations to develop employment opportunities for students.
The School-to-Work Transition Program provides supported work experiences and employment opportunities for hundreds of MPS students with disabilities each year. Students are offered a wide variety of work opportunities at the various sites, are continually assessed and instructed for improvement, and leave the program not only with employment skills but with a resume that reflects the wealth of their MPS-supported experiences.
The program continues to serve as a model for other districts and accommodates numerous onsite visit requests each year. STWTP staff and students have been recognized by the Council of Exceptional Children and the Wisconsin Restaurant Association. It is a unique, successful, and valuable program for our students with disabilities and one that has always put the needs of the students first.