Nora Horan and Cindy Burola’s students pose for a photo with Questar III WBL Coordinator Jon Levine and American Legion 1st Vice President Cheryl De Russo at the American Legion in Rensselaer

Work-based learning is an important part of many of Questar III’s programs, but it carries special significance for students in Special Education classes because these opportunities allow students to learn valuable skills that will help them be successful when they complete their time with us.

For students in Cindy Burola and Nora Horan’s classes at Columbia High School, their work-based learning takes them to five locations in Rensselaer County: St. Mary’s church, The East Greenbush Library, Melvin Roads American Legion Post 1231, the PAES Lab at Rensslaer Academy and Pet Supplies Plus in East Greenbush.

Throughout the school year, students visit work locations on a weekly basis, and work on a variety of tasks – whether it’s reshelving books at the library, practicing measuring and organizing in the PAES Lab, or helping with bingo at the American Legion. This work gives them a chance to experience life outside the classroom – in the community and on the job. They learn not only how to complete their assigned tasks, but also how to interact with supervisors, coworkers and the public.

Recently, our students have been working on:

  • Fine motor skills, following directions, literacy skills, and organizational skills at the PAES Lab at Rensselaer Academy
  • Students work on following directions, product setup and placement and interaction with customers at Pet Supplies Plus
  • They also work on event set up, cleaning and social interactions at the American Legion.

It wouldn’t be possible to offer our students these opportunities without the support of our staff and our community partners. Our students are better because of these experiences and we thank all those involved for their work to ensure our students are prepared for the next phase of their lives. A special thanks goes to Teaching Assistants Christine McDermott and Mary Dikas. They are the ones who accompany our students into the workplace and have been an integral part in their work readiness development.

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