Rural community adds a learning lab for success after graduation - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Rural community adds a learning lab for success after graduation

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ADAMS, Minn. (KTTC) -- It's never too early to start preparing for the future. For most students, graduation is one of the most exciting times in life.

But the pressure of finding a job can easily put a damper on things. It's even more difficult if graduates aren't prepared with the skills necessary and that's why a new learning lab is being set up in Adams to make sure special education students are ready for that next step.

It's called a PAES lab - or practical assessment exploration system and will serve students in Grand Meadow, LeRoy Ostrander, and the Southland districts.

Heather Schutte the Work Based Learning Coordinator explains, "What we're trying to do is find out exactly what their interests are and connect it with their abilities so they can be successful when they get out there."

The lab is just one part of how special education students will have an upper hand when it comes to finding out what they want to after graduation. They're able to explore five career areas, business, computer technology, construction and industrial, process and production and consumer services.

It's a safe learning environment to practice before heading out to the real world, but it may be hard to tell the difference. The students are called employees and the teacher the boss. They'll be able to explore about 300 jobs and will be doing a little bit of everything.

Heidi Johnson of Talent Assessment, Inc. says, "Some of the skills they may be learning to measure to the nearest whole in construction but in the consumer service they're using that skill to measure cloth, it's the same general skill."

It's the first of its kind for rural Minnesota and will serve as a model for the rest of the state. It's making a big difference for the opportunities students can gain locally.

Steve Sallee, Southland/LeRoy Ostrander Superintendent explains, "We had to send those kids to Austin or Rochester for other programs and really we feel like it's better for a smaller district to keep those kids in our own districts."

The students are even paid in a token system. The idea is that they'll be able to use the tokens earned to buy things like football game tickets or school spirit wear.

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