Pathways: a Vocational and Life Skills Program

What is Pathways?

The Pathways program at Silver Lake Regional High School supports transition-aged individuals (18 - 22 years old) with disabilities who are ready to learn life skills and vocational skills in community-based work environments.

"A Road to Independence" created by Pathways Students with the assistance of Harbor Media

Pathways creates opportunity & independence through a six prong approach:

Pathways staff support program members as they apply for state identification and apply for Social Security Disability Benefits.

  • Building vocational skills through internships with local employers
  • Developing strong community connections with human service stakeholders: Department of Developmental Services, Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission, Social Security Administration and mental health providers.
  • Utilizing community resources: Gatra, The Ride, local libraries, One Stop Career Centers, adult education providers and local colleges.
  • Building social skills and community by developing a network of social supports with other young adults with disabilities
  • Learning healthy living skills through exercise routines at The YMCA and cooking skills through practice.
  • Building positive money management habits through lessons with shopping.

Core Principles

  • Treat Members as young adults not high school students.
  • Interpersonal skills and relationships is critical in successful transition.
  • Promote independence by allowing young adults to have a voice and a choice.
  • Build on the natural community connections and resources such as: Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission , Department of Developmental Services, One Stop Career Centers, public transportation, libraries, community centers and adult education resources.
  • Belief that all the young adults are capable of working and or volunteering and becoming contributing members of society.
  • Build vocational potential through internships with local employers.

Vocational Skills

According to the United States Department of Labor, youth need to be exposed to a range of experiences to be successful in choosing a career path, including:

  • Opportunities to engage in a range of work-based exploration activities such as site visits and job shadowing
  • Multiple on-the-job training experiences, including community service (paid or unpaid) that is specifically linked to the content of a program of study and school credit
  • Opportunities to learn and practice their work skills ("soft skills")
  • Opportunities to learn first-hand about specific occupational skills related to a career pathway.

Pathways’ internship model provides students with work tailored to their interests and the local job market. Examples include:

  • Food Service
  • Retail
  • Landscaping/Maintenance
  • General Office Work
  • Customer Service
  • Animal Care

When businesses partner with Pathways, students attend their internship once or twice a week in shifts of 2 - 3 hours. Students are provided reliable transportation and are supported by a job coach or the program coordinator. The day(s), time(s) and scope of work are agreed upon in advance and Pathways staff maintain a running dialogue with our business partners to discuss progress, challenges or changes. Internships run throughout the course of the school year and take place during the traditional school hours.

Life Skills

Develops community partnerships with local businesses to create vocational training and internship opportunities to build career paths.

Citizenship is key in building responsible community members and the Pathways members participate in volunteer opportunities for local non-profit organizations as well including food pantries and animal shelters.

Life Skills Training Includes:

  • Social Skills Training both on the job site in the community and in the classroom. Pathways program members participate in community outings with similar programs to develop a peer network for its program members
  • Cooking lessons
  • Money management including: budgeting, comparison shopping and managing Social Security Disability Benefits
  • Community Navigation Skills, community safety, practice with using public transportation, and self awareness when traveling in the community
  • Vocational Soft Skills
  • General Wellness and Physical Activity programming

Building the Bridge to Adult Services

The Pathways Program creates a bridge to adult services including: making connections with the following agencies: Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission, Department of Developmental Services, Social Security Administration, and Local One Stop Career Centers.

Pathways staff support program members as they apply for state identification and apply for Social Security Disability Benefits.

Faculty and Staff

Mrs. Laura Courage
Transition Coordinator

Ms. Judy Desantis
Job Coach

Ms. Susanne Trepanier
Job Coach