Name of Innovative Program:
Archway Works: Student Careers for the 21st Century
Name of Innovative Program Lead:
E-mail Address of Innovative Program Lead:
Because everyone’s need is special, Archway Programs offers a wide array of people, services, products and facilities, wholly committed to excellence and solely dedicated to assist children and adults to succeed. Our project, “Archway Works: Student Careers for the 21st Century,” enables students who have special needs with associated behavioral challenges to learn in the classroom and on-the-job, skills necessary to transition from school-to-work. Students, staff, and cooperating companies work together to identify and meet career goals in the areas of horticulture, retailing, hospitality/food service, banking, communications, and maintenance. By providing school and community-based learning experiences, while at the same time aggressively pursuing partnerships with local businesses to sustain meaningful employment opportunities in the community, Archway Works empowers an often times stigmatized population of students to develop positive work attitudes, essential job skills, and preparation for meaningful careers.
Creativity and Innovation:
The Works approach to finding meaningful employment for our at-risk students utilizes some creative and flexible educational methods that many regular education programs do not have the resources to use. Our highly comprehensive careers program which involves three steps of on-campus skill training, job sampling, and then placement is unmatched. On our main campus is a floral shop, mock TD Bank branch, school café, and auto detailing shop that all allow for the most practical learning experiences possible. Thus, Archway students, who are able to begin the program at the age of 8, can comfortably master relevant life skills that will make the transition from school to work that much easier, as well as promising. Partnerships with successful corporations active in the area including Wal-Mart, Virtua Health, Coca-Cola, Pizza Hut, and Wawa drastically increase the potential for success.
By partnering with other organizations that work to empower and promote the success of children, adolescents, and early adults with special needs, our careers program demonstrates leadership that provides direction to other organizations. For example, a recent partnership with a likeminded organization, the Garden State Pathways Program, allows both programs to further develop and cultivate community contacts, transportation needs, and parental involvement to locate and sustain employment in the community for students who have special needs.
Archway Works admits new students every year and sustains employment opportunities through aggressive outreach efforts and partnerships with local businesses. Our Careers Coordinator and job coaches continually meet with established and new businesses in the area, and conduct our Annual Work Experience Luncheon to showcase the program and build upon our network of business contacts.
By successfully developing the careers program in both of the Archway Schools we have already proven the program’s ability to be replicated. Our curriculum is the envy of many public school sending districts and could be replicated given a flexible educational environment.
Over the years we have tracked students involved with on-campus employment, job sampling, and community employment. Between both of Archway’s Schools there are 60 students who are working on-campus and 40 working offsite for local businesses such as I-Hop, Shop Rite, and Virtua Health. We have lists of our local business partners as well. Additionally, we can even cite a number of students who have obtained meaningful employment following graduation from our schools. Some examples of post-graduation employment opportunities include jobs as bus aides, landscapers, grocers, and teachers’ aides. Beyond successful job placement we also measure success in terms of improved attitudes and behaviors as a result of participation in Archway Works. Our students experience increased social skills as well as an ability to prioritize goals and make reasoned decisions. These are measures of success that future programs can use as guidance.