Monday, August 5, 2013

We're Off and Running With the School!




Followers of this blog know we have been hard at work on creating a school for teens with challenges here in the Robison Service complex. This past week we had a milestone event –inspection by our liaison with the Massachusetts Dept of Elementary and Secondary Education.  They are the people who give the official OK for schools to be schools, and start taking on students.

I am pleased to say we passed the inspection with flying colors, and we have been approved!  Our liaison from the state was really excited at our plans, and offered a number of excellent suggestions.  We are about to become – to the best of my knowledge – the only special needs school teaching a trade where that trade is actually performed. 

One thing has changed since my original announcement – and that is our name.   We originally thought of calling the program Northeast Vocational, but it turns out that has special significance to the state.  You see, vocational schools are one kind of school and special needs schools are another.  Our parent school – Tri County (part of Northeast Center for Youth and Families) – is a special needs school, so that’s what we are too.

To call ourselves a vocational school we would have to admit all kids – not just those with special needs – and our program would be licensed and overseen by a different group within DESE.  That would be a major change, and since our goal has always been to help kids with challenges, the sensible thing to do was change the name.

So we’re going to call ourselves the TCS Automotive Program.

Now that we have the blessing of the state we’ve got to scramble to open for class this September.   Look for an announcement soon for an open house later this August, and feel free to contact us if you’d like to talk about getting your son or daughter into the program.  

Most of Tri County’s students are referred by local school districts, and paid for with public funds.  Our staff can help walk you through that process.  Our program is totally unique, and if sounds like it may fit the needs of your child . . . give us a call.

Here are some of the unique things our program will offer:
  • We have a parent school with a long history of teaching kids with challenges;
  • We pledge to develop and implement state of the art teaching programs, evaluate their success, and fine tune them for best outcomes.  Tri Country already gets top marks from the state for special ed teaching performance;
  • Tri County has strong supports for our students and controls bullying;
  • Students in the auto program will learn a valuable trade;
  • Students will be exposed to all the commercial operations of our complex, allowing them to see real work being done, and making what they learn in class that much more real;
  • Students will have the chance to earn industry certifications that will help them get good jobs;
  • We will offer internships right in our complex, allowing students to “ease into” real work in a safe supported setting.  We will also help place kids in other safe friendly settings to maximize their chances for success on graduation;
  • And finally – much of the vision for this school comes from me – an autistic adult who made a good life practicing a trade.  I’ll be there to mentor and advise our students, and I'll be backed up by one of the most capable special ed teams in the state.


I’m writing this post from Australia, where I am speaking at several autism conferences and delivering the National Biography Award lecture.  I’ll be home next week at which point I’ll jump into this project with both feet.  However, the crew from Tri County is already on the job – even today.


(Above) The lighthouse at Byron Bay, Australia, is sited at the easternmost point of the Australian continent.  


I hope to hear from any of you who want to join our program, and I look forward to meeting at our upcoming open house. Stay tuned for an announcement of a date. 

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John Elder Robison is an autistic adult who is known as a writer and advocate for people with autism and neurological differences.  He is also the founder of J E Robison Service - a specialty business that repairs and restores high end automobiles in Springfield, Massachusetts 

2 comments:

Maripat Robison said...

Very proud of you, and everyone else involved!

Outrider said...

John,

Thank you. Just thank you.

-Outrider