The Transition Program offers the continuation of age-appropriate services for special education students (ages 18-22) as mandated by law. Designed to facilitate a successful transition to the adult world, the program introduces quality options through formal planning (involving educators, parents, students and community agencies), age-appropriate curriculum, and a diverse range of experiences to foster a smooth transition.
The Transition Program is supervised and operated by the WCCUSD Special Education Department. Services are provided at the Vista Hills Education Center, as well as community sites including the Contra Costa Community College campus and the WCCUSD Nutrition Center. Total enrollment averages between 95-140 students a year.
The philosophy of the program is to implement students’ IEP goals and objectives in a variety of age-appropriate environments. Through direct instruction, hands-on experience, and/or embedded components, the Basics 3 core curriculum framework provides the foundation for meaningful learning designed to enable students to “transition” to the adult worlds of regular paid employment and independent community living as successfully as possible. Lessons include functional academics, daily living skills, social-emotional development and vocational training.
Some students are employed by the school district to work as “student workers” in various community-based jobsites. All students in these positions earn the minimum wage as per the City of Richmond, which as of this writing is $15.00 per hour <February 2022>. These work-sites are considered to be an extension of classroom instruction where teachers and special education assistants, ie. job coaches, provide training and instruction to small groups of student workers. Hours spent by students assigned to work-sites may vary, but 4 hours of daily paid work 4 days a week is generally to be expected. Other eligible students may attend mainstream college classes, or be competitively employed.
Classrooms at the Vista Hills Education Center feature a teacher with two or more special education instructional assistants and a class enrollment of 10-12 students. The unique focus of each class is a reflection of students' needs and interests, and is as varied as exploring the opportunities in culinary arts to developing and maintaining basic functional academics and daily living skills. Emphasis upon the importance of lifelong healthy habits such as diet and exercise is embedded throughout.
Additionally, designated instructional services (DIS) including speech therapist, physical therapist, occupational therapist, adaptive physical education, and support for the medically fragile are provided as specifically detailed in students’ Individual Education Programs (IEPs). Furthermore, in some situations, behavior plans will be implemented for students needing this critical intervention as indicated n their particular IEP.
At age twenty-two, Transition Program students will exit from special education. In celebration of their accomplishments, the Transition Program hosts an annual ceremony for the graduates and their families in the Grand Courtyard of the Vista Hills Education Center.