Today@Sam Article

Heritage Magazine: Future Pathways To Success

June 22, 2023
SHSU Media Contact: Mikah Boyd

FuturePathways Social

For most students, leaving high school life behind and transitioning into a new future is challenging. This major milestone can be even more daunting for students with disabilities.

The Student-Centered Transitions Network (SCTN) creates new pathways to a successful adult life for students with disabilities. The statewide program is led by the Eleanor and Charles Garrett Center on Transition and Disability Studies at Sam Houston State University in collaboration with the Texas Education Agency (TEA). The key goal is to provide needed services to prepare students for post-secondary education or employment.

Through grant funding, the TEA awarded the Garrett Center the state leadership role for the network, which is responsible for working with the state’s 20 regional Education Service Centers to provide resources, training and support to the 1,260 school districts and charter schools in the state.

“As part of the network, the Garrett Center established an advisory committee consisting of national and state experts. Because the services are for students with disabilities, it is important to include the students’ voices, however, one student cannot speak for the state,” said Vickie Mitchell, who serves as the network’s project director and professor of education at SHSU. 

Mitchell created a plan to use the state’s Education Service Centers as the vehicle to secure the voice of students and created the concept of the Regional Student Advisory Committees. Transition specialists at each education service center in Texas work with their school districts to establish and hold student advisory committee meetings.

“The Garrett Center grant staff work with the service centers to develop meeting materials, train teachers who facilitate the student advisory committees and collect student feedback to submit to the TEA,” Mitchell said.

Educator Sheila Daniels serves as a transition specialist at Montgomery ISD. Her work includes managing the Regional Student Advisory Committee for the district. She regularly meets with a group of 10 Lake Creek High School students selected to participate as committee members.

“Students in specialized learning are, for the most part, left out of typical advisory groups or school committees, so for them to be invited to be a part of this committee and provide meaningful input is very empowering,” Daniels said. “The group discusses specific topics like continued learning beyond high school and they provide feedback on services from a student’s perspective.”

Reese Horn, a senior at Lake Creek High School, is a member of the student committee. He plans to attend SHSU next fall and then pursue law school to become an attorney.

“I’m hoping my input can improve things like the Texas Transition website and accessibility to resources available to students like me who need information about life after high school,” Horn said.

To view the full Spring 2023 edition of Heritage Magazine, follow this link

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