For the 15 Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) students in the adult independence program, graduation means moving on to the workforce and exploring the community. These students have spent the past three years learning by doing – whether they had paid employment or spent hours learning job training in the community. They learned how to contribute to their community and the skills necessary to lead independent lives.
The program, known as AIP, is a secondary transition program that provides students with disabilities between the ages of 18 to 21 with opportunities to complete their education in age-appropriate community settings. Focal parts of AIP include employment, community access and daily living skills in order to support students as they transition from high school to life as an adult. Enrollment in AIP is generally about 30 students.
The AIP Class of 2020 includes the following students: Keyona Bowman, Alexander Chisley, Selah Davis, Angelo Drayton, Nathan Fenwick, George Gorham, Kevon Green Johnson, Trey Hargrove, Jonathan Jones, Anthony Macri, Paris Massey, Joshua Minnis, Hadassah Taylor-Ketchum, James Wheeler and Keith Wood.
During her time in the program, Bowman completed on-the-job training at several local businesses. She spent time at St. Ignatius Catholic Church, Martini’s banquet room, Lifestream Church of the Nazarene, the Waldorf Senior Center, La Plata Church of Christ and the Port Tobacco Satellite Center.
Bowman’s favorite job training experience is at Martini’s’ banquet room, where she manages side work such as filling sauces and weighing various food items. Her lead teacher, Samantha Shelton, said Bowman loves to help others. “She is a rock star at her Martini’s job site. She is a leader at this site and the Senior Center. She loves to help others and is very independent in many areas,” Shelton said. Bowman will continue her training with Cerenity Inc., a local organization that provides employment support and continued vocational training.
Chisley has spent time working at several Charles County businesses including the Courtyard Marriott hotel, Texas Roadhouse, Big Lots and First Baptist Church of St. Charles. He also maintained a paid position at a local CVS and now works for CCPS as a building service staff member.
Chisley’s teacher, Deana Downs, said Chisley is a hard worker who is genuine and kind. “Alex takes pride in his work. He always has a smile on his face and wants everyone around him to be happy and upbeat,” Downs said. Chisley is working toward obtaining his driver’s license and saving money to buy his own car. He will continue to work with Life Inc., an organization that provides services to community members with disabilities.
Davis is known among her teachers as a positive student who is professional and courteous. She takes pride in her work and encourages others to be positive. During her time with AIP, Davis has worked at businesses such as Big Lots, Hooks and Hangers and South Potomac Church. She is currently working in the food and nutrition services department with CCPS.
Downs is also Davis’ main teacher and said feedback from her supervisors is outstanding. “Selah has a personality that shines when she is working. Her previous work-based supervisors have shared with me that Selah is very professional on the job site and takes pride in her job,” Downs said. Davis will also receive support through Life Inc.
Drayton is a hard worker who is known among his teachers as reliable and dependable. His on-the-job training experience includes opportunities with the Arnold House, Southern Maryland Martial Arts, the Salvation Army and the Waldorf Senior Center. He is currently employed by CCPS as a food and nutrition services staff member.
Downs is Drayton’s lead teacher. She said not only is he a reliable employee, but he is always looking to help others. “His coworkers have said that they can always depend on Angelo to be at work and never complain. He is a very hardworking young man and enjoys spending time with his friends. Angelo loves dancing, and he finds his happiness on the dance floor,” Downs said. Drayton also will receive support through Life Inc.
Fenwick has landed a position with CCPS in the food and nutrition services department. He is known by his teacher, Caroline Foster, as a hard worker who loves to read. In his spare time, Fenwick likes to watch Disney movies and spend time at Sky Zone. Fenwick will receive support through Life Inc.
Gorham loves to spend time with his family and make people smile. He is known among his teachers as one of the funniest people one could ever meet. He loves to tell funny jokes and stories. Gorham is happiest spending time with his family and friends. Gorham plans to continue working with either the Spring Dell Center or Arc of Southern Maryland.
Green Johnson is well known among his peers at La Plata High School for his pleasant demeanor and bright smile. He likes to watch his peers play sports, listen to music and working in the community. Green Johnson likes his weight lifting class and helping in the school cafeteria. His teacher, Richard Kelley, said Green Johnson is well liked by his peers. “His sense of humor and laugh will be missed. He has a very pleasant demeanor and enjoys interacting with his peers and staff here at La Plata,” Kelley said. Green Johnson will transition to Cerenity Inc.
Hargrove is known as a social and friendly person. He strives to be as independent as possible and loves to listen to music and use the computer. Hargrove likes to bowl and play bingo. Some of his on-the-job training at La Plata High School includes working on task boxes, passing out printed materials and collecting food trays. Kelley is also Hargrove’s teacher and said he is a kind and helpful student. “He enjoys interacting with his peers on a daily basis,” Kelley said. Hargrove also transitions to Cerenity Inc.
Jones is known among program staff as a student with a sparkling personality. His on-the-job training includes the Waldorf West branch of the library, Capital Clubhouse and the Salvation Army. Shelton is also Jones’ main teacher; she said he has a fabulous disposition. “He is always friendly, kind and helpful,” Shelton said. Jones’ favorite training experiences include his time working at the Salvation Army and the library. Jones will continue training with the Spring Dell Center.
Macri is outgoing and likes to serve in leadership roles. He loves to play the game Uno and strategize how to win against his opponents. At La Plata High School, Marci helped in several areas such as setting up for athletic events, helping in the school cafeteria and setting up for dismissal. According to Kelley, his favorite job was checking for students without a parking pass. “His goal in life is to serve his community and become a police officer,” Kelley said. Macri will continue his hands-on training with the Spring Dell Center.
Massey loves to help people, and is a dedicated and hard worker. She has worked at places such as Big Lots and Texas Roadhouse. Massey also completed job training at South Potomac Church, Restore Rehabilitation Center and Hawkins Gate Assisted Living Facility. “Paris is hard working and dedicated. She is an amazing friend to have; she is always putting others first,” her teacher, Deana Downs, said.
Minnis is a hard worker who strives to master new skills. He has job trained at businesses such as Wintergreen Nursery, the Charlotte Hall Veterans Home, and Hooks and Hangers thrift store. Minnis is currently working in building services with CCPS. “His supervisor has shared that he gives Josh directions to complete a task, and the task is completed correctly, without supervision. Josh is extremely confident in his work skills,” his teacher, Downs, said.
Taylor-Ketchum works with the CCPS food and nutrition services department and is known as a team player. She loves to work with people and build positive relationships. She is ready to learn new tasks and is helpful, friendly and kind. One of her favorite work experiences was at Texas Roadhouse, where she helped to fill peanut buckets, prepare the dining room for guests and meal prep. “Hadassah’s supervisor has shared that she helps the food service staff a great deal. She is always ready for a new task, and shines when she is taught a new skill,” her teacher, Downs, said.
Wheeler has held several paid positions, including jobs at McDonald’s and Wendy’s. He now works at a local Dollar Tree store, where he demonstrates great skills and the ability to work well with others. He is outgoing, friendly and committed to learning new skills. “With a smile, James will try any task that is asked of him. He is a hard worker. James does not know a stranger; he is very outgoing with a positive attitude,” his teacher, Downs, said. Wheeler will receive support through Life Inc.
Wood is happiest working outside and currently works with Wood Ventures, a local company. He enjoys working in outdoor maintenance and learning how to operate equipment such as tractors and fork lifts. Wood also likes to help with home repairs and has experience with building decks.
Wood’s previous on-site training includes positions with Wintergreen Nursery and Courtyard Marriott. “In the summer, you can find Keith driving his electric car around a campground in Virginia and working there,” his teacher, Downs, said. Wood will receive support through the Arc of Southern Maryland.
Charles County Public Schools provides 27,521 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 37 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.
The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Kathy Kiessling, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Nikial Majors, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.