Sycamore Community School District 427 Life School students Johnathan Engh and Sheridan Bolden recently earned job placements in the community. John will work as an environmental services employee at Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital, and Sheridan will work as an activity assistant at the DeKalb County Rehab and Nursing Center. John and Sheridan’s hard work, pleasant personalities, and motivation undoubtedly earned them the jobs. And their experiences with the Life School program and community partners have prepared them both to take these next steps in their career paths.
Life School is District 427’s transition program that supports students after their time at Sycamore High School who received specialized education. To qualify, students must be 18 years old, have an IEP, and have completed four years of high school. Life School provides each of these students with either developmental- or transition-focused training until their 22nd birthday. Developmental training focuses on basic functional, social, and life skills, while transition training builds on the basic skills to include skills focused on work and community.
During his time in Life School, John had the opportunity to work with several organizations in the community, including the Sycamore Park District. As a custodian in their Community Center, John not only completed his tasks — he was a friendly face to staff and visitors alike.
“John always arrived at our Community Center facility with a happy attitude and ready to take on the tasks of the day. John had friendly chats with our Pathway Fitness members while he was in and out of cleaning on the track and in the fitness areas,” said Theresa Tvesh, Superintendent of Recreation Services.
Sheridan also gained experience in the community. From learning to call and arrange her own transportation to and from various commitments, to volunteering her time at Tails Humane Society in DeKalb, Sheridan thrived. “She’s a good worker, a great student, and she has the best laugh — when you hear it, you know everyone is in a good place,” said Life School Director Rhonda Graves.
After observing their abilities to work independently, Graves recommended John and Sheridan apply for Project SEARCH — a transition-to-work program with the specific goal of helping each program participant earn competitive employment.
Application to Project SEARCH is an extensive and selective process. But John and Sheridan were successfully selected as candidates for Project SEARCH at Northwestern Medicine. In the program, participants complete three 10-week internships in different departments. Once complete, some participants earn job placement.
District 427 has a record of successful Project SEARCH participants. “We have had several students selected for Project SEARCH over the years, and the neat thing is that when they phase out of our program and earn employment, we continue to see them out in the community,” said Graves.
As John and Sheridan phase out of Sycamore’s Life School Transition Program and Project SEARCH, we are excited for their next adventures with Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital and the DeKalb County Rehab and Nursing Center. Congratulations, John and Sheridan!