Bethel Regional High School (BRHS) wants to prepare all high school students to have the same job opportunities. A new state-funded program will match students with disabilities with local businesses for summer jobs.
The program is designed for students with varying disabilities, whether those are learning disabilities, communication delays, or students on the autism spectrum.
"The students would be able to work for about 4 to 6 weeks this summer up to full time, if that's what they have an interest in, and then there is a classroom component that we'd meet once a week, for a couple hours, to address that," said BRHS teacher Jane Belanger.
Belanger is recruiting employers and students for the program. She’s figuring out what the students’ needs are, and how to address those in a workplace.
Ashley Crace, Lower Kuskokwim School District Director of Special Education, says that early work experience helps students decide which paths to take for college or career.
“Employment is competitive out there," said Crace. "So it's our job as educators to help them be ready or feel comfortable regardless of whether it's at a port, or being a mechanic, or the local airlines, or the subsistence lifestyle of fending for yourself and your family."
The state will pay students a minimum wage of $9.80. Crace hopes that local employers looking for summer staff will consider their program and the benefits it has for the community.
"We as a school district want to say, 'okay, doesn't matter what their skill level or needs are, we as a community as a whole, in the Delta, are going to figure out ways to help our kids.'"
For more information about the summer jobs program contact Jane Belanger at Bethel Regional High School.