XENIA — The Greene County Career Center’s Project SEARCH received the Excellent Employment Outcome Award for the ninth year in a row.
Project SEARCH is an internship program where students up to age 23 can gain experience in the workforce and learn necessary skills that will set them apart from others in their job search. Through this internship, a handful of students are chosen to work in the host location for a full year, learning necessary skills. Specifically made for high school seniors, and “super seniors,” they’re providing a smooth transition to the workforce through their training. This includes job coaching, life skills, and on-site, hands-on training in a professional environment.
The program — one of only a handful of programs around the country to have earned the award for nine consecutive years — was built on the goal of competitive employment for the students. Through the years, Greene County Career Center students have recorded more than 90,000 hours of work at their host hospital and educational partner, the Soin Medical Center.
The development of their independent living and employability skills are the highlights of this program, as the students have a proven 90-100 percent employment outcome upon program completion.
“Already the interns are beginning their job coaching experience in the Culinary/Kitchen, Environmental Services, Materials, Patient Management, Emergency Room, Patient Services, and Sterilization Departments,” said Elisabeth Cline, program instructor. “We are off to a great start and look forward to individual growth and skill set expansion for each participant.”
Project SEARCH expanded this school year, helping fulfill the career center’s goal of providing a refreshing space for students to explore their professional interests while getting their required credits to complete high school.
“We are excited to welcome Bellbrook, Beavercreek, Fairborn, Xenia, Wayne, and West Carrollton to the Project SEARCH family this year,” Cline said. “As the new year starts students from these districts will soon have a new opportunity to prepare for competitive employment.”
The most recent graduating class has gained employment at several local businesses that were made possible due to the Project SEARCH training program. These employers include Soin Medical Center, Bellbrook High School, WPAFB, Mini University, Good Will Retail Services, and various other retail and food establishments in the area.
The schedule for the program is strategically planned to best utilize the time and skills of the students. This means that the first few weeks focus on orientation, skill assessments, and familiarizing themselves with the environment of their host location. Once the students are comfortable with their new role, the real fun begins. The program consists of three different internships which provides the interns with opportunities to become successful in their future.
“They emerge in the spring ready to transition into the community,” Cline said. “This transition is supported by Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities counselor and a job developer who guides the intern into competitive employment in an area of choice.”
As the internship winds down toward the end of the year, the students take the time to sharpen the skills they’ve learned throughout their time, preparing them for employment after they graduate.
Cline has been teaching for 28 years. She obtained a master’s degree in educational leadership, and in special education. With her extended educational background, she also holds a transition-to-work endorsement along with a special education coordinator endorsement.