- Esther Jackson
FCS Transportation Trains Exceptional Children for Careers
For 29 years, Tracey White has worked for Fulton County Schools (FCS). Now working in transportation services, she has found her home. When the opportunity to participate in the Learning Independence in Future Employment (L.I.F.E.) program was suggested, she and other transportation employees embraced the challenge.
The L.I.F.E. program was created to empower exceptional children to continue their education by exploring careers. The exposure to real life work allowed the students to determine their interests and learn about working with others in a professional environment.
The Community Based Vocational Instructional (CBVI) program allowed the students to work in the South Transportation facility. Students were able to take a few hours per week to work with White and the team in transportation services, including Coordinator Jim Maples, to learn what makes the team go. As part of their training, students ordered vehicle parts, assisted the custodian with his duties and learned what it takes to make the team functional and successful.
"They know I was there for them to look to as a mentor," White said. The three seniors who participated in the program were Karen Sanders, Creekside High; and Willie Trimble and Solomon Roland, Banneker High. Sanders has applied to become a transportation assistant for the district and worked on buses learning the job. One of the Banneker graduates was advanced and accepted into the L.I.F.E. program with Georgia State University (GSU). The other student got a job at GSU partly due to the work he did with transportation. Two of the three students will be gainfully employed, and transportation was part of the puzzle.
Transportation Executive Director Vickie Cross is proud of the work her team did to ensure the students' career exploration. "Tracey had this heart-based idea to open our doors for three L.I.F.E. students and we made the decision to give it a try," Cross said. "The decision to welcome these three students into our family will forever change those employees who interacted with Solomon, Willie and Karen. It was a wonderful idea with an amazing outcome. We have offered to host additional L.I.F.E. students next school year because the experience was so positive."
While the end of training for the three students ended in the spring, it was not the end of their bond. "They know that they can come to me," White said. "This experience taught me that helping others humbles you and keeps you grounded where you can see the beauty in kindness."