School is not in session today
After Pomp and Circumstance plays at graduation ceremonies, most teens experience trepidation and uncertainty about their future, and Joshua Ward, of Sandy Creek, was no different. Joshua was not likely to pursue a college degree. Instead, he was considering his options after graduating from an inclusive class at Sandy Creek High School.
During his secondary school years, Joshua participated in a number of internships and work experiences, particularly Make Sense Shop, a café in Pulaski. It was here that Joshua made an impression on his advisors and mentors as someone who works very hard and has a solid and strong work ethic. Josh really didn't think that experience would shape his life; that's just who he is. However, it paid off as Sandy Creek Superintendent Stewart Amell called him shortly after graduation to offer him a temporary position as a cleaner at the school. Initially, the adjustment was difficult and Josh wasn't sure he would succeed at the job. But Amell and the school district were not ready to give up on Josh. They contacted ACCES-VR for assistance, and Oswego Industries stepped in to help with job coaching. Sherry Mahoney, job retention specialist, stepped in to help Josh adjust and learn the job. In no time, it was evident that he was successful as the Sandy Creek Board of Education voted in February to hire him as a full-time employee. "Hiring Josh was not a difficult decision at all," said Amell. "He worked in several job internships that demonstrated his productivity. Josh is fun. He arrives early for work every day and stops by the office to say hello. He is a team player and an excellent worker." Josh presently works 40 hours per week, on the evening shift during the school year and days during the summer. He says he likes cleaning and "there's nothing about my job that I don't like." When he's not working, Josh enjoys watching television and playing video games. The perfect partnership between Josh, Sandy Creek School District, and Oswego Industries was enough to convince the Central New York Placement Consortium to nominate the school district for a statewide award. Fifteen ACCES-VR offices (formerly known as VESID) review nominations select five award winners throughout the state. And with Josh's success, Sandy Creek was presented with the award at the 11th Annual Disability Mentoring Day breakfast, held on October 19, 2011. The mentoring day is held in recognition of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and pairs individuals who have disabilities with area employers to spend a day together at the worksite. In addition to Sandy Creek, four other area businesses were also recognized for employing people with disabilities. They are Dollar Tree, Inc. on West Seneca Turnpike, Sam's Club/Members Only on Erie Blvd.; Walgreens on James Street and in Cicero, the Syracuse VA Medical Center; and Driver's Village, Inc. Congratulations to Sandy Creek and to Joshua for this terrific partnership.