Special education work program offers students real-world job skills

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GREEN BAY, Wis. A proud day for six Green Bay special education students as they receive certificates for successfully completing a seven-week work experience program.

In a first-of-its-kind for the district, the students worked with employees at Dorsch Ford, learning about auto detailing.

"What I've really enjoyed is how they've been teaching us how to detail cars, how to do it safely with chemicals, shamming, drying, acid washes," said Sam Birmingham, a senior at Green Bay East High School.

The work experience program also allows the students to practice real-world employee skills, making it easier to secure a job after graduation.

"The life skills and the soft skills we're discussing is communication skills, how to interact appropriately in a workplace, how to communicate their wants and needs and how to best be in a team environment- that's really what we're teaching here that's what it's all about," said Shane McDonough, work experience coordinator for Green Bay East High School.

"They’re extraordinary, absolutely it’s been a pleasure working with them, it's just been great, this whole program that they're trying to get going here," said Marvin Poquette, detail manager at Dorsch Ford and KIA.

To celebrate their earnings, the students are cashing in on a Milwaukee Brewers game, they'll be paying for tickets, gas, snacks and activities along the way all on their own. McDonough says by having the students calculate game expenses, it gives them experience with responsible spending and budgeting.

"This program is really great for you to try, because it can prepare you for life, it can prepare you for all the tough stuff that you can handle and get thrown your way, especially in a real job," said Birmingham.

"We have a very capable group of individuals who finished this program, who are ready to continue on and pursue careers. Some of them want to stay in the automotive industry, most do, and we're hoping that the skills that they've learned here, that they can grow, and they can develop, and they can reach their full potential," McDonough says.