February 10, 2014

Tenn. transit offers job training to disabled students

Jessica Adkins (center) is one of seven teachers in Metro Schools Community Based Transition Program. She is working with students (left) Rita Subba, Mikel Babb, Cailyn Wheaton and Robert Dockery as they sort bus schedules as part of their internship at Nashville MTA.

Jessica Adkins (center) is one of seven teachers in Metro Schools Community Based Transition Program. She is working with students (left) Rita Subba, Mikel Babb, Cailyn Wheaton and Robert Dockery as they sort bus schedules as part of their internship at Nashville MTA.

Nashville Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) is giving a group of Metro school students with disabilities an opportunity to learn life skills that will benefit them long into the future, as well as work in public transportation.  

MTA is participating in the Metro Nashville Schools Community Based Transition Program (CBTP), which “provides a continuum of transition services to students with disabilities,” according to their Webpage.  Students between the ages of 18 and 22 with intellectual and physical disabilities continue their education through this program that teaches job skills, as well as life skills. They work with various organizations and companies in non-paid internship positions performing various duties.

In addition, students attend classes where lessons are taught in life skills, such as balancing a checkbook, how to introduce oneself and professional behavior in the work environment.

“This is an opportunity for us to reach out in a different way to our community,” said MTA Board Chair Jeffrey P. Yarbro. “Not only do these students provide a necessary service for MTA, but we can assist in their continuing education and transition into the working world.”

Kathryn Deitzer, transition coach and business and community liaison for the program through Metro schools, explained Nashville Mayor Karl Dean provided the opportunity for the program to be presented to all Metro department heads and Nashville MTA CEO Paul J Ballard jumped right on board.

Robert Greene, lead dispatcher with Nashville MTA, supervises up to six students who are enrolled in the program. “These students are filling an everyday need here at MTA such as sorting our bus schedules for the drivers. They provide a great service to us, and in my assessment, this is a win-win situation,” he said.

Before beginning their workday at MTA, students attend class in the morning to prepare them for their work duties that day. They then are taken to the jobsite where they work until lunch or early afternoon. From there it’s back to the classroom where they continue lessons in life skills.

The first CBTP classroom was located at the former Tennessee Christian Medical Center (now Skyline Madison Campus) during the 1994-95 school year. With a successful first year, the program opened more classrooms and opportunities for students. Today, classrooms can be found at seven locations across the city and internships are provided at numerous businesses and agencies.

In addition to Nashville MTA, other Metro agencies that are participating in the program by providing either classroom space and/or internships include Metro Water Services, Parks and Recreation, the Davidson Criminal Justice Center and the downtown library.

“This is a great program, and we are excited to have these students interning at MTA,” Yarbro said. “It’s worthwhile for everyone involved.”

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