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6/15/2016 12:39:41 PM Reporting from Detroit,MI
Special needs students ready for careers thanks to hospital school-to-work program
6/15/2016 12:39:41 PM
Beaumont’s Project SEARCH graduates fifth class; employs 12 grads to date.

Special needs students ready for careers thanks to hospital school-to-work program

Beaumont Health

Special needs students ready for careers thanks to hospital school-to-work program

Wednesday, June 15, 2016


Beaumont’s Project SEARCH graduates fifth class; employs 12 grads to date

Each year, during June, families everywhere celebrate high school graduation, while eagerly anticipating what career lies ahead for their children. For families of students with special needs, this period can be an anxious one as they contemplate the next chapter of their children’s lives.

However, in the case of eight special needs students in Beaumont Hospital, Troy’s Project SEARCH 2016 graduating class the future looks very bright from the support of dedicated instructors and Beaumont administrators.

On Tuesday, June 8, these hard working students celebrated the completion of this year-long, school-to-work program with their families and Beaumont staff at a special graduation ceremony which featured certificates from Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and a personal letter from Lt.  Gov. Brian Calley.

“It’s been an absolute joy having these students as part of the Beaumont family,” said Debbie Guido-Allen, chief nursing officer, Beaumont Hospital, Troy and program executive sponsor. “Not only did they learn from us, but we learned from them as well.

“We are truly fortunate and extremely proud to play a role in helping launch their professional careers,” Guido-Allen added.

Project SEARCH is a business-led program for post-secondary students with intellectual and developmental disorders who are between the ages of 18 and 26. The program is a joint venture between Beaumont Hospital, Troy; Oakland Schools; the Troy school districts; Michigan Rehabilitation Services; New Horizons Rehabilitation Services; Bureau of Services for Blind Persons; Community Living Service; Macomb-Oakland Regional Center; and the Oakland County Community Mental Health Authority.

The program is conducted entirely at the workplace, with a combination of classroom instruction and hands-on training through three worksite rotations.

"Students spend an hour in the classroom each morning, learning the skills needed for employment, such as resume building, interview training, on-the-job training, code of conduct, grooming, problem-solving and critical thinking skills," explained Carolyn VanNoord , Project SEARCH teacher with the Troy School District. "The goal of the program is for the students to gain work experience that will give them the skills necessary to obtain a paying job in the workforce."

This is Beaumont’s fifth year hosting this program, graduating 47 participants since 2011.

“I really enjoyed interacting with other co-workers and being in a business setting,” said Charles Kearney, 19, a 2016 Beaumont Project SEARCH graduate.

To date, of the previous four graduating classes, 12 have been hired to work for Beaumont, Troy in areas such as central processing, environmental services, nursing administration and nutrition services.

For Stephanie Martin, 28, a 2012 Project SEARCH graduate who now works part-time as an environmental attendant in the Environmental Services department, being employed at the hospital has given her a feeling of accomplishment and a sense of purpose.

"I really like it because I'm around people and it gives me something to do," she says. "My mom, dad and sister all work, so if I didn't have this job, I'd probably be home by myself. I've learned a lot. I keep my focus on my job, because if I do it well, maybe someday I can do another kind of job, like the people I see walking by every day."

For more information about Beaumont’s Project SEARCH program contact Sheila Gannon, transition coordinator, Troy School District at 248-823-2828 or or Carolyn Van Noord Project SEARCH Instructor at 248-964-8178, 248-229-4210 or