Have you heard about the good work of the Jurupa Adult Transition Program?
It teaches a remarkable group of special-needs men and women, ages 18-22.
“We have developed a program that will best prepare our students to be independent when they age out of JUSD at 22," said teacher Geoff Holt.
Students in the program might be training to become bussers in a restaurant, for example, or they might need assistance with eating and other rituals of daily life, said Mr. Holt and fellow program instructors Patrick Thompson and Angie Tang.
All of the students show grit, resilience, and a growth mind-set. “Students in our program have huge hearts and are extremely hard-working," the teachers said.
Classes meet daily from 6:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. at JUSD's Jurupa Adult Center – though the classroom extends far beyond the campus. The program enrolls 27 students and enlists the help of many support aides.
Breaking down barriers
The program centers on helping students overcome barriers and learn without limits – in real-world settings.
“Since our program serves young adult students we are free to explore what our wonderful community has to offer, vs. traditional settings in which students are under 18," the instructors said. “We are able to travel freely upon the fixed bus system, visiting local grocery stores, restaurants and museums."
The students learn, daily, out in the community. “Our classroom really has no walls," said Mr. Holt, Mr. Thompson and Ms. Tang.
“The main purpose of our program is gaining individual independence," the instructors said.
For some, self-sufficiency entails learning to ride the bus from point A to point B or point C. For others, it might include learning to prepare simple meals. Each student has different needs, goals and areas of focus.
Other lessons might center on understanding employment notices, government signs, and paperwork such as applications. Practical math entails a focus on time, money and cooking measurements. Some students also learn home-tending skills such as gardening and cleaning.
In the community, the students volunteer, explore, shop and learn. Twice a month, they assist with community food drives at the local senior center. There, teams of students help unload, sort and deliver palettes as needed; provide customer service to help feed the hungry; and clean up and organize during the event.
“We like this setting because it teaches teamwork, work routine, taking directions from those they are not familiar with and maneuvering safely throughout the community," the instructors said.
The Jurupa Adult Transition students also have created gardens, adopted a local park, assisted at elementary schools and more.
Students succeed and reach personal goals often, thanks to the program's range of lessons and the students' own grit, determination and spirit.
“In the last 10 years of Jurupa Adult Transition, several students have been able to obtain and retain employment, which we feel is the highest form of independence," Mr. Holt said.
The teachers noted that three of the program's students have interned or are interning with Riviera Family Restaurant in Jurupa Valley, where they earn wages as they learn to help run a restaurant.
The student-workers, who take the bus to work and back, are trained in food sanitation, customer service and handling money, the teachers said.
Asked what makes them most proud of their students generally, the instructors replied: “Their work ethic. Our students will
always put their best foot forward and give it their all."