4/18/2014 2:33:19 PM

Siena Launches College Based Transition Program

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

By Eric Guzman '12

The Siena College student body grew this semester to include three special education students from Shaker High School. The College has joined with the North Colonie Central School District to develop a program that will help them transition into adulthood.

“Siena and North Colonie Central School District have always had a strong relationship and cooperated within the field of teacher education,” said Director of the Office of Services for Students With Disabilities Michael Kelly. “It is no wonder a great program like this was created.”

Students ages 17-21 are eligible for the College Based Transition Program at Siena College. Rather than remaining in high school special education classes, the students can now participate in programs and activities that support their Individualized Education Plans in an age-appropriate setting.

This year’s pilot program consists of three Shaker High School students that come to Siena five days a week and participate in activities ranging from taking classes and working on campus to interacting in small groups and attending social events.

Special Education teacher and Transition Program Coordinator at Shaker High School Heather Hanrahan explained that the ultimate goal of this program is to provide the students with the opportunity to develop the vocational and social skills needed to hold a job in the near future.

“Yes, these students are at a college, but the intent is not 100% academic. The experience of interaction with faculty and students their age is really great for them,” Hanrahan said. “Siena is a great place for that to happen.”

Each morning the students begin with an overview of their day at Siena. Next, they either work at their campus job sites or attend their classes. Much like traditional Siena students, once their work is done, the students head to the dining hall for lunch. They eat with their teachers and  peer helpers. The second half of the day consists of physical activity at the Marcelle Athletic Complex and tutoring with a "college buddy."

“Lunch is our favorite part of the day,” one of the students in the program said. “We get to see lots of our friends. The burgers are really good too!”

When asked to rate how much they enjoy coming to Siena, another student quickly said, “I give it two 10s. I love it here!”

Both Kelly and Hanrahan agree that the program has been successful. They are now planning to expand the program to include more students. They also want to increase interaction between the high school and Siena students by working with campus clubs such as Best Buddies, which works with students with disabilities.

Organizers and students agree that the blossoming relationship between Shaker High School and Siena College is providing unique opportunities, worthwhile experiences and wonderful memories for everyone involved.

Contact: Ken Jubie
Contact E-mail: communications@siena.edu

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