Suzanne Norwood, FWISD coordinator of transition services, recognizes Texas Wesleyan staff at thank you luncheon last spring.
Project Search, national high school transition program that helps students with disabilities gain employment, is thriving at Texas Wesleyan for the third year in a row.
FWISD, along with Goodwill, the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS), MHMR of Tarrant County and Texas Wesleyan, came together to bring Project Search to Fort Worth in 2013.
Since the program’s inception, Project Search has graduated 17 students, all of which are now successfully employed in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
This year, the program has nine Fort Worth ISD students. Students come to Texas Wesleyan during FWISD school hours, and during that time, work on several job rotations while learning essential job skills.
Project Search interns also meet twice daily in the Baker Building with LeAnn Griffin, Goodwill job coach and employment specialist, and Christina Schlueter, FWISD vocational adjustment coordinator.
"These kids are amazing. Not only are they learning to complete the important tasks assigned to them, they are learning essential skills about what it takes to succeed in the workforce," Schlueter said.
Internship rotations include jobs in the Office of Student Life, fitness center, Facilities and Maintenance, Admissions Office, dining hall and IT.
"We drill down the importance of being on time, staying focused, keeping a positive attitude and how to approach a problem or conflict," Schlueter said.
Once the program is completed in May, interns will set out for employment with the assistance of Griffin. Last year, interns gained employment in the community at places including Colonial Country Club, Main Event, the Fort Worth Zoo and the YMCA.
Texas Wesleyan’s role
Suzanne Norwood, FWISD coordinator of transition services, was making cold calls across town trying to find an employer that would serve as a business host for Project Search when she finally found her gold – blue and gold – at Texas Wesleyan.
"Texas Wesleyan was on my list, and sure enough, and lucky enough, John Veilleux answered the phone to hear me out," Norwood said.
She says that Veilleux, Texas Wesleyan’s vice president for marketing and communications, was immediately interested in the program and its potential to help bright students with disabilities.
"He agreed to meet with Marcia Scofield, FWISD transition specialist, at Arlington Heights High School and the rest is history," Norwood said.
Project Search is in its third year at Texas Wesleyan and Veilleux says he hopes the partnership will continue to thrive.
"This is an important way we can give back to our community and support bright and deserving kids who are excited to join the workforce," Veilleux said.