CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. — The Jefferson County Schools Parent Education Resource Center (PERC) sponsored a special event to support JCS families as their students move from school to adulthood. The annual PERC Transition Fair took place on November 29 at the Ranson Civic Center.
A press release from Jefferson County Schools talked about the event, which was organized into two phases.
The first phase was scheduled during the school day exclusively for high school students with special needs. Students completed a career interest assessment and had the opportunity to practice skills based on their interests. For Noah Hunter, a ninth grader at Washington High School, that included tasks related to materials and handling and retail sales and distribution.
Noah’s father, Dale Hunter, Sr., said he was grateful for the learning opportunities the event provided his son, who is autistic.
“Any information we can get to help [Noah] in his future is really important because he needs all the guidance available to him.”
Students were also able to practice soft skills, such as making eye contact, shaking hands, greeting customers, and introducing themselves to someone new. Students who completed a determined number of tasks received a gift bag.
Haley Kern, JCS Parent Resource Coordinator, said the transition fair is all about meeting students with special needs where they are as they move into adulthood.
“Our students have a range of abilities and we wanted to provide a sampling of job-related skills that are attainable to them,” said Kern.
The second phase of the event took place in the evening and was open to families of all JCS students with special needs regardless of age or grade level. Families who homeschool or whose children attend JVA, private, or charter schools were also invited to attend.
During the evening portion of the event, service providers, agencies, and organizations were present to share information and answer questions about topics like guardianship, respite care, ABA therapy, and WVABLE. Potential employers were also on hand to meet and talk with students and their families about job opportunities that meet their abilities.
JCS parent Nancy Russell said she was impressed by the number of community resources available to her daughter Emma, an eighth-grader at Charles Town Middle School.
“It’s been really educational,” said Russell. “I thought when [Emma] graduated, we might need to go somewhere else for good services. But it seems like there are a lot of opportunities that we didn’t know about right here!”
Kern said the idea of the transition fair is to offer a comprehensive overview of community resources for those in need.
“We try to keep in mind that the variety and spectrum of abilities our folks have is only a portion of the needs they have. So, we’re trying to cover as many bases as possible.”
To learn more about the services offered by PERC, visit www.jcswv.org/perc.