Over the summer, Arlington Public Schools’ Transition Program moved from Arlington High School to its new location in a house located on the campus of the district’s Support Services building. District maintenance crews improved portions of the French Avenue House to serve as a safe facility for the program and provide more opportunities for students to learn the skills they need to be self-sufficient. The Transition Program is part of the district’s Special Education Department and serves students aged 18-21 years.
“Due to the limited space and lack of running water in the classroom at the high school, it was hard for the students to learn the skills they needed,” said Transition Program teacher, Cheryl Burkhead. “This new location allows the students to practice their cooking and cleaning skills and learn how to maintain a home. In addition, the students now have access to a bus line which expands their reach into the community.”
“I enjoy helping people in the community,” said 18-year-old, Erik Johnson.
The students help community organizations in different ways. They wash, dry and organize clothes at Arlington Kids Kloset, a nonprofit organization that provides new and quality used clothing, shoes and hygiene products to students. They’ve served meals and cleaned at Friendship House in Mt. Vernon and also served as personal shoppers at Costco.
“One of the former Transition students now works for a Costco and checks receipts as shoppers leave the warehouse,” said Burkhead. “If the students learn the necessary skills, they can be very productive in society. That’s why this move was so important.”