Jobs program is praised

Jobs program is praised

Makenna Johnson’s new favorite job is shredding paper. The 18-year-old Mankato East High School graduate is among five young adults with disabilities getting some unique help transitioning to the next phase of their lives. 

Mankato Area Public Schools recently launched INSITE, a new program designed especially for 18- to 21-year-old students with disabilities. INSITE stands for Individuals Navigating Skills for Independence, Transition and Employment. 

Mankato Area Public Schools is the first in the region to develop a specialized program for its older students. Some school districts in the Twin Cities have programs, which Mankato leaders used as models. 

The young adults are learning skills that will help them gain and maintain employment and live independently. They take on tasks ranging from laundry and doing dishes to learning future work skills. Another focus is on hobbies and ways to spend free time. 

The pandemic is for now forcing the students and staff to spend most of their time in their new space at 50 Navaho Ave. But the plan is to venture out more into the community for work and for fun, said Samantha Steinman, assistant director of secondary special education for Mankato Area Public Schools. 

INSITE is looking for businesses partners to provide students with unpaid work experiences in the future. 

Students who receive special education services can continue attending a public school through the school year in which they turn 21. Until this year, Mankato area 18- to 21-year-olds continued their education at the high schools. 

Once INSITE has been up and running smoothly for a while, Supt. Paul Peterson said the district will look at opening it up to students from surrounding districts. 

(Source: Free Press of Mankato)