Shenandoah public chools recognized for LIFE Program

Tucci Learning Solutions recently recognized Shenandoah County Public Schools with a national award for a program designed to help people with disabilities live an independent life after high school graduation.

The school system’s LIFE (Learning Independence for Everyday) program won the Competent Learner Model Inspired Implementation Innovation (CLMiii) award.

The LIFE program  began in Shenandoah County in the 2014-2015 school year to provide post-graduate, special education students from throughout Shenandoah County a place to transition to independence after high school. The program focuses on developing employment skills, independent living, and living their best lives.

Superintendent Mark Johnston described the LIFE program as “extremely important for assisting students with disabilities as they transition to life and careers beyond school by supporting them in job skills, money management, housekeeping, and all the various skills that one needs to be successful in living independently.

“Many students with disabilities transition just fine (from high school) to college and careers and do not need such a high level of services to support their transition,” Johnston added. “For these students, however, who do, the LIFE program gives them the capacity to lead lives that are as independent as possible. If they are not able to be independent, then they are equipped to be productive and contributing members in the communities that support their health and well being post-school.”

The students in this program learn what they need to know to be an independent adult, such as writing checks, addressing an envelope and counting money. They learn to wash clothes, prepare healthy meals, grocery shopping and exercising. All of the students have been placed in jobs in the community to prepare them for independent life.

“The LIFE program is a countywide program that is located at Central High School,” Johnston said. “As principal there at the time of the move and since the move, Missy Hensley was instrumental in the design, implementation, and efficacy of the program.”

“Missy’s efforts were supported by the School Board in approving funds to create the space as well as central office staff who also provided assistance in getting the program up and running,” Johnston added.

The program is housed in an “apartment” inside Central High School, actually a converted girl’s locker room. The apartment contains a kitchen, living room, dining room area, laundry area and a private bathroom with shower. There is also a small yard area where students learn light yard work.