- Special School District of St. Louis County
- Partnership Highlights
MercyPosted by Special School District on 11/1/2023
As a teaching hospital, Mercy has long been familiar with what it takes to train new residents and student nurses. They have taken that knowledge and extended that to SSD students - welcoming them to the workforce, providing proper training, and including them as equals.
Mercy Hospital welcomes our Vocational Skills Program (VSP) into its building. These students, often called interns, have completed their high school experience and been identified as benefiting from additional training in a supported environment before they transition to the workforce. There is a classroom in the hospital where interns learn employability skills, such as professionalism and how to communicate effectively. Out of the classroom, interns are able to see a variety of departments at Mercy before deciding which department they will work in and learn the skills associated with those jobs.
While working with Mirah Moore, the Bakery supervisor, interns in the Nutrition-Culinary services department get to let their interests guide them. One former student was interested in completing a task that he could accomplish in one day, so Moore trained him on cookies, which he could make from start to finish - including packaging, dating, and labeling - all in one day. This former intern is now employed at Mercy South. They report regularly that the things he learned at Mercy Hospital set him up for success. Moore notes that it is helpful to hear this type of feedback, saying, “You’re always hoping that when you’re training students, you’re setting them up with lifelong skills.” Hearing from a current employer of a graduate let her know that was happening.
While at Mercy, interns are able to look across the board at opportunities in health care. Once an interis hired, they can start networking and learning about other jobs. There are educational opportunities and benefits that interns can take advantage of to build a career based on their interests and skills. Moore is a cheerleader for VSP interns and believes “they are capable of anything they put their mind to.”
To learn more about the VSP program at Mercy, follow this link to a video Mercy created.
SchnucksPosted by Special School District on 5/11/2023
There is a lot that happens in a grocery store. Keeping items on the shelf is only part of the equation. Items must be turned to face forward, stocked by date, removed if expired, and placed in the correct spot. These are just a few of the tasks required to make sure grocery items get from the store to your home, and at Schnucks in Des Peres, SSD students are completing them.
Lee Goldstein, an SSD teacher at Kirkwood High School, accompanies her four students to Schnucks for the first three periods of school four days a week as part of SSD’s Community Based Vocational Instruction program (CBVI). On Thursdays, students remain at school and work on transition skills: employability, community living, daily living, and personal life.
Schnucks store manager Dennis Frede, was excited to speak about the CBVI program at their store. Frede is a big proponent of welcoming students; he believes his team members learn as much as the students do. As for the quality of work provided, Frede beamed, “They do a great job, and they’re always smiling. I just love it; it makes me feel good.”
In addition to retail-specific skills such as stocking, students are learning transferable skills in leveraging technology and customer service. Students use the Schnucks App to help them locate where to put items customers might displace throughout the store. Customers and team members also interact with students, and students have the opportunity to practice answering questions or responding to a polite greeting.
And, the students are happy about gaining real-world work experience. One student from this year’s group will begin working at Schnucks upon graduation, and another was all smiles, stating, “It’s great! I get to walk around the store and learn new things.”
As they wrap up their year with Schnucks, this group has gained more than transferable skills through the CBVI program. Goldstein sees students are more confident and independent, better understand the importance of money, and have gained a sense of community which was evident throughout the store. Students regularly worked and interacted with Schnucks employees, and the employees spoke highly of the students.
Goldstein speaks highly of Schnucks as well. “Schnucks is a great partner for our students. A worker today asked me about a student I had here last year: ‘How is he doing?’ You know, they develop a fondness and relationship and care about how students are doing and whether they’re successful. They are a great, great partnership. Everybody here is spectacular.”