Probably it's what most high school students need: comprehensive and holistic transition planning to complete high school and execute post-secondary and vocational goals. After all, nationally roughly a third of students entering high school do not complete, and without a diploma, their lifetime earnings are substantially lower compared with those who do.
For students with disabilities, however, the issue is more critical. Employment statistics for people with disabilities are poor, just 26% were employed in 2008 (according to the Cornell University Employment and Disability Institute); and for a myriad of reasons, students who leave high school without an effective transition plan risk not only entrenched joblessness, but also social isolation.
The program is a partnership among schools, the Georgia Department of Labor Vocational Rehabilitation program, Tools for Life (Georgia's AT Act Program), numerous community members, students and their families. Together these collaborators provide academic and career development experiences that lead to further education and/or high-tech jobs.
1. School-based preparatory experiences
2. Career preparatory and work-based learning experiences
3. Youth development and leadership
4. Connecting activities (including AT, job shadowing, industry tours, mentoring, transportation)
5. Family involvement and supports
HS/HT activities also include financial aid trainings for parents, and student workshops on resume writing and effective interviewing strategies.
HS/HT seniors who are transitioning to new environments also receive computer and AT training thanks to Tech-Able, an AT Regional Center in the Georgia Tools for Life (AT Act) program network. The program provides seniors individualized training on refurbished laptops with AT software specific to their needs. The students then apply competitively for their own laptops by securing recommendations, and writing essays to explain how the laptop and AT would benefit them with post-secondary education or employment. The laptops are funded through local grants or the Vocational Rehabilitation Program and are refurbished for a nominal fee by ReBoot, another Georgia Tools for Life program.
Coming Soon: Virtual Worlds Mentoring Island
HS/HT is also looking forward to collaborating with a new project funded by the National Science Foundation through Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia. The project will bring together students and teachers in a creative virtual world for mentoring and learning. (Read about it in the sidebar article: "Virtual Worlds to Support Transition in Georgia," this issue).
Interested in starting a HS/HT program?
Today Florida, Oklahoma, Ohio, Michigan, South Carolina, Maryland, Delaware, Colorado, and Texas have or are creating their own versions of HS/HT.
High School/High Tech Program Coordinator
1700 Century Circle, Suite 300
Atlanta, GA 30345