Once you’re an Eagle, you’re always an Eagle, and the same holds true for the students who work in the Transition and Career Experience program at Naples High School.

“This is a transition program for students who have already graduated high school,” class teacher Mike Wexler said. “They have an opportunity to come back.”

Former high school students with disabilities have a way to get jobs and improve their life skills by joining the program, which gives them career opportunities throughout the community.

Upon graduation, the students have the option to stay in the program until the age 22, but it’s not mandatory.

“It prepares them for the real world,” teacher Nicole Rennie said. “It gives them some of the necessary skills that they’re still struggling with (and) may need help with.”

The program promotes independence for the new adults, allowing them to develop their communication skills with others and grow socially. The participants develop a sense of responsibility, learn how to manage money, and have a higher level of confidence. 

“We look at the kids’ individual skills,” behavior analyst Ali French stated. “We try to go by what they are interested in and find jobs that fill their individual needs.”

The participants in the Transition and Career Experience program are grouped into different working environments to get a feel for which area best suits their skills and interests the best.

The program has partnered with local stores and businesses. A few of those partnerships include: Chick-Fil-A, Publix, Old Navy, NCH, Walgreens, the Naples Zoo and the PGA Tour Superstore.  

“Some of them will get a job out of this,” Rennie stated. “Right now they are just doing internships.”

This opportunity can aid them throughout the process of getting a full time paid job. Although this program doesn’t give the young adults permanent jobs, they get valuable career experience that can help them adapt to working various positions.

“We help them transition with life skills and into the community,” Wexler said. “Our intention is to either get them jobs while they are in our program, or get them jobs after they leave our program within our community.”