School-to-Work students excelling at Lake Hallie Goodwill, their pride and accomplishments runs deep. 

Between the two local high schools, the Lake Hallie Goodwill supports nine to 10 School-to-Work participants, with hopes to bring on more soon. The School-to-Work program provides valuable work experience for high school students with disabilities through a cooperative effort between Goodwill and area school districts.

Having an on-site job coach who can work one-on-one with individuals is making a big difference as they try to figure out what the students can do, what they like to do and how they can move them to the next level.

“I’m already seeing the progress and already seeing the reward with the one-to-one coaching,” said Scott Gauvin, Store Team Leader.

These School-to-Work students are excelling and come running into the store from the bus and don’t want to leave. Seeing their excitement and being a part of their growth is the most rewarding, Scott said.

“We’re seeing them excel, and it’s a great program here.”

Most of the students are working on overcoming social barriers. When they first started, they were extremely quiet and kept to themselves. Now, they say hi and thank the customers. The more they are invited to say hi, thank you and ask to round up, the more comfortable they get with speaking.

“We are seeing some shine and come out of their shell. It’s really cool,” Scott said. “Getting them to want to talk to the customers was a huge barrier to overcome.”

One student who is graduating from the program wants to work at the store once she is done with school. There, she feels included and is treated with respect. It’s a safe zone because she is accepted and not picked on.

“This is the highlight of her day,” Scott said.

Another student has progressed so much with his social skills that he shared in his excitement of greeting his first customer at the donation door.

Others are starting to learn the registers. They start in one role and then rotate to another.

“Working on the development of their social skills is a big one,” Scott said. “Their communication is doing really well, and they are working side by side to learn the skill set. And they’re enjoying it.”

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