Questar III students at Goff Middle School had the chance to hear from some special guests Monday morning. Students in Jeannette Antalek and Sarah Knightes class attended a career panel to learn about having a job and how to prepare for when that time comes.
The unique part about the panelists? They are all adults with disabilities – just like Ms. Antalek and Ms. Knightes’ students.
“It was great for our students to see that there are options after school for them. They might be getting services or working in a sheltered workshop but there are opportunities out there for them,” says Antalek.
The panel was a transitions event, organized by Transition Coordinator Sally Lauletta. She contacted each of the panelists and worked with Antalek and Knightes to create the morning’s program.
Most of the panelists were graduates of Questar III programs at Sackett Educational Center or Rensselaer Educational Center. Each described their work and shared why they enjoyed it. Students also asked questions about their work schedule, how they got paid, and how they got their jobs.
The panelists also offered advice to the students to help them be successful.
“It’s important to learn how to present yourself in the workplace. It’s different than being around your friends, you need to be professional,” said Ryan Morash, a Questar III IT Technician.
Cam Ostwald, a Respite Worker at Parson’s Child & Family Center said while most are looking for independence, it’s ok to admit you need help.
“It’s important to accept help when you need it. Accepting a little help now will be very helpful later on.”
Morash agreed with her and added knowing your limits is important.
“Know your limits and you’ll know what you’re able to do and when you need to ask for help”
Students were encouraged to take advantage of the services available to them when they are in school, because it can be harder to receive that assistance after graduation.
Other topics discussed included paying taxes, health insurance, following rules, doing what you’re asked or expected to do and being respectful.
Panelists also encouraged the students to always work hard and stick with something until it’s completed.
Antalek says experiences like this connect to the BOCES goal of ensuring our students are ready for whatever comes next.
“We’re making sure that our students, particularly those with developmental disabilities are getting the life skills that they need to be successful, that we’re preparing them to be well-rounded in those areas.”
Thank you to all six of our panelists for spending the morning with our students!
Joshua Fowler (Sackett Educational Center): Stock Clerk, NAPA Auto Parts
Ryan Morash (Sackett Educational Center/Rensselaer Educational Center): IT Technician, Questar III
Xavier Skeeter (Albany High School): Movie Associate, Regal Cinema
Cam Ostwald (Sackett Educational Center): Respite Worker, Parson’s Child and Family Center
James Vail (Sackett Educational Center): Child Care Worker, School’s Out Incorporated
Jennifer Welch (Sackett Educational Center): Cashier, Jiffy Lube