PAES Lab: Co-facilitators making a difference
Earlier this year, we introduced an article to the South Colonie community highlighting the PAES lab at CCHS. Primarily, our articles will focus on the PAES students and their pathway through the program, while highlighting their achievements. This critical program is overseen by co-facilitators Ms. DonVito and Ms. Hoerup. The co-facilitators responsibility is to continue encouraging and teaching PAES Lab students with the options related to various career-based programs. They are dedicated educational professionals that guide this group of students towards navigating job responsibilities and preparing them for today’s workforce.
The main purpose of the PAES Lab
Learning new pathways for employment can be a challenge for any student. At CCHS, the school is currently offering the PAES Lab for the district’s special education program. PAES, which stands for Practical Assessment Exploration System, is specifically designed to assist students with opportunities to learn the necessary skill sets to become employed in today’s economy. Special education students learn various proficiencies in a number of occupations, such as: plumbing, hotel and service industries, restaurants and much more. This is the first year that the program is being offered by CCHS.
We wanted to share with you some insight from Ms. Hoerup and Ms. DonVito related to the program and find out how today’s students are preparing for tomorrow’s workforce.
How are students introduced to the PAES Lab?
Ms. Hoerup: Students are introduced to the PAES Lab through the Life Skills Program. This program was started because students could not go out and work in the community, like they have done previously, due to COVID-19 protocols. The district invested in the PAES Lab so students could continue to develop an array of performance skills that may eventually enhance their employability profile.
What is the main goal in preparing students to thrive in our regional workforce?
Ms. DonVito: The main goal is to prepare students for the workforce and an independent adult life by exposing them to a wide-range of work skills. Students are able to try jobs in processing and production, housekeeping and cleaning, food preparation, construction jobs, business jobs such as typing, alphabetizing and collating. Through their experience in the PAES Lab, they gain a better understanding of what is more realistic if employed at grocery stores, hardware stores, restaurants, offices, hotels and retail stores to name a few. Another goal for the students in the PAES Lab is to understand and be familiar with expectations of being at a job. They learn how to clock in and out, learn how to ask a supervisor for help, let the supervisor know when they are finished with a job, hygiene protocols, appropriate behaviors and manners, and safety. Another goal is to give them enough experiences in a category to help them decide their future interests. Many students are getting experiences they have not had before in a school setting or at home.
How does CCHS see this program evolving?
Ms. Hoerup: The PAES Lab has helped to open up a new lens for the students as they look into what future careers may interest them. The district can now use the Lab as the training ground for first and second year students, before they are able to transition into a community-based externship during their junior, senior and post-graduate years. This sequence of experience will also help to support the CDOS (Career Development and Occupational Studies) pathway for students. The PAES lab offers students 300 different jobs in 5 major categories so students can try and test what interests them.
What immediate impact do you feel this program could offer this area?
Ms. DonVito: The district feels that the PAES Lab will provide the students with more confidence and skills as they eventually go out and seek jobs in the community. In turn, the community businesses may also view our students as having an accredited experience through the PAES Lab and become more viable candidates for them to consider hiring. Ideally, these students could become part of a valued local workforce – a positive partnership the district hopes to continue to develop.