Agreement helps disabled students get to college

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Sonja Bailes, Special to the Press-Tribune

 

A major milestone was crossed December 17 for some previously under-served Bossier Parish students. It was finalized with two signatures.

A memorandum of understanding was signed by Bossier Schools Superintendent D.C. Machen and Bossier Parish Community College Chancellor Dr. Jim Henderson, ushering in the Program for Successful Employment (PSE). This first-of-its-kind endeavor between Bossier Schools and BPCC is designed to provide access to college for students with cognitive disabilities and/or autism who may have not had the opportunity to attend previously.

Beginning in January 2014, PSE will pilot the program on the BPCC campus by assisting special education students in Bossier Parish Schools with vocational training. The ultimate goal is successful employment.

“This is one more example of how Bossier Schools and BPCC work closely together to help all students succeed,” Machen said. “The Program for Successful Employment is an exciting venture that will enable our students with autism and cognitive disabilities to transition into post-secondary education, employment and community life by providing them with dual enrollment and job opportunities. This will give them a chance to more fully reach their potential as productive citizens, an opportunity many of these students have not had before.”

Rebecca Hanberry, PSE Program Director at BPCC, spoke passionately at the MOU signing ceremony about the need for this in the community.

“To date, access for these students on a college campus has been limited,” Hanberry said. “Through PSE, the next step for those with these disabilities now exists. If an individual has a cognitive disability and no diploma or GED and want to work but lacks the training or resources to get a job, PSE will help them achieve their goals. If someone has autism and their social skills seem to be a roadblock for employment, PSE is also for them.”

Chancellor Henderson echoed those sentiments, adding “Everything we do at BPCC focuses on preparing our students for success in the workforce or at the next level of education. As a result, the future quality of life in our community looks brighter and the competitive advantage our employers enjoy in the form of developed talent has never been stronger.”