By CONNIE MANGIN/Executive Director of Special Education

The belief that each student is important is the center of the efforts of the Department of Special Education. We are dedicated to creating programs and services that promote the success of all students by providing an inclusive setting where individual differences are valued and enrich lives at home, school and the community.

We nurture collaboration between students, families, AISD staff and community service agencies to provide support through the implementation of individualized education programs dedicated to each student’s diverse/individual educational needs. It is our goal to prepare all students to achieve to their unique potential while becoming productive, valued and contributing members to their families and society.

There are many working parts to the AISD Special Education program, and I am honored to spotlight the 18+ Program that is growing and making a great impact for our high school students.

Together We Support Students on their Road to Success 18+ Program

Students receiving Special Education services are eligible for 18+ services when they are at least 18 years old, have completed all course and state assessment requirements, and continue to have transition-based goals for graduation. A continuum of services through campus based and community-based models is provided to gain skills for future success through personalized educational transition goals. These goals focus on areas such as independent living, employability, volunteerism, consumer skills, self-determination and recreation/leisure.

AISD’s program, provided at Abilene High and Cooper High, allows students to access community opportunities for increased training for positive transition to community opportunities upon graduation. Students receive these services both on campus and in the community.  The goal is to teach the recommended transition goals in the community to allow instruction directly in a community-based environment where each student can attain job and independent skills applicable upon completion of high school.

In the Job Opportunities Beyond School (JOBS) community-based program, students receive campus-based employability skills training as well as participate directly in local community-based businesses. Many community businesses network with AISD to provide authentic job training environments as well as volunteer and consumer experiences. Transportation training is also integrated  to develop a sustainable transportation plan for post-secondary success.

Through the efforts of this collaborative program our students will graduate and enter the Abilene community prepared for career success and independent living.  The differences made in these student’s lives are life changing and will have continuing impact not only for the student but for the community.

As seen in the 18+ Program, as well as in all Special Education areas, extraordinary accomplishments are being made by our students.  Thank you, students, for participating. Thank you, Abilene community, for transition opportunities.  Thank you, AISD teachers and staff, for providing opportunities for high-quality student-centered services and instruction so that attain our goal of success for all.