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Erie 1 BOCES Special Education provides programs which are designed for students with disabilities whose instructional needs cannot be appropriately served by their local school district.  Special education classes, for students ages 5-21, are hosted within our component school districts. 

 A team effort by related services itinerant professionals supports the classroom teacher in meeting the demands of the New York State Common Core Learning Standards.  The following itinerant services are provided, based on the student’s IEP:  speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, itinerant hearing services, itinerant vision services and social work counseling.

Special programs exist to specifically meet the needs of students with autism, behavior disorders and students who have previously not been successful in a traditional public school setting.  Transition services are an important part of the curriculum for all Special Education students.  Students have an opportunity to participate in a simulated workshop and in community internships.

For all students, learning is based on the New York State Common Core Learning Standards.

Special Education
Project SEARCH finds success

Program is a model after five years of triumphs

Trevor Project SEARCH intern Jessica Ellis leads a word association game for senior citizens living at Beechwood Continuing Care.Proy carefully stacks medical supplies on a cart; down the hall, Andrew Struzyk assists in the kitchen; a floor up, Jessica Ellis leads a word association game for a dozen seniors.

Each of these past and present Project SEARCH interns has learned skills that will help them pursue their passions in many fields.

The program’s success in assisting its interns in finding gainful employment after graduation stems from a unique partnership between Erie 1 BOCES, Beechwood Continuing Care, Aspire of Western New York (WNY) and The Summit Center.

Trevor graduated from Ken-Ton School District last year and is now employed at Beechwood as a central supply aide. He is the sixth Project SEARCH intern to be employed by the nursing facility.

“It’s an interesting program where we get to learn different jobs and make new friends. It allowed me to find something that piqued my interest and learn how to do the tasks of the job,” Trevor said.

Jessica, a senior at Amherst High School, and Andrew, a senior at John F. Kennedy High School, will exit the program this June with transferable skills for a variety of careers, as well as a team to help with the transition to adult services.

“Our students in Project SEARCH are not confined to working for only a skilled nursing
organization,” Erin Richeal, Erie 1 BOCES Exceptional Education teacher for Project SEARCH, explained. “We have graduates gainfully employed in food service, retail, and educational services. Our partnership provides a business liaison from Beechwood and agency support for present and post-graduation placement. If a student is interested in employment, we network with other companies and provide recommendations for that intern.”During his Project SEARCH internship, Trevor Proy carefully stacks medical supplies on a cart.

The student’s district administrator, care coordinator, Adult Career and Continuing Education Services-Vocational Rehabilitation (ACCES-VR) counselor, job coach and instructor are also at the table for employability planning. In the past, participating districts have included Akron, Amherst, Clarence, Cheektowaga, Maryvale, Lancaster, Sweet Home, City of Tonawanda, Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda, Hamburg, Lockport, Eden and East Aurora.

The program’s mission has been mimicked by other organizations, but being one of the first in Western New York to establish a business-led model has made it a trendsetter.

“Our partnership makes us stand out. Families usually have to been referred to services they will need after their child finishes school. The linkages our partnership provides with adult services makes that transition seamless,” Nicole Marcello, Aspire adult services evaluator, said.

The full-day immersion into the workforce at Beechwood fosters an environment for interns to learn soft skills and more specific skills that they will take with them after graduation and into the job market.

“It’s a good match,” Richeal added. “There is a culture of mutual respect here. I have witnessed seniors show their appreciation for the care and empathy our interns show them, and on the other side, the interns find the work very rewarding. They take that experience with them and look for a similar feeling in their next step after Project SEARCH.”

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