Javier West, once a student at risk, no longer fears failure at his job or about his future. Javier has learned exceptional multitasking skills and uses them every day at his job as a shop floor assistant at the Tommy Hilfiger retail outlet in Palm Beach, FL. He dreams of being a firefighter too!
Just a few short years ago, “J”, as he is fondly referred to by teachers, was struggling. His learning disabilities put him at risk of dropping out of school. He didn’t fit into the traditional general education learning environment and wasn’t performing well academically. Back then, J had little self-confidence, but today, he is a different man. Why? Because of the career development and life skills opportunities J was given in his school.
J’s parents enrolled him in Believers Academy, a charter school of the Palm Beach County School District. Since 2004, the academy has achieved a steady 97% employment rate for students, ages 14 to 21. J took basic academic classes and learned about a variety of career and life skill using Project Discovery. J credits his teachers and the career development options for his job success. He liked the blended academic and vocational curriculum he was taught, especially the units on medical services in preparation for him to someday become a firefighter.
Rebecca Pelletier, a school administrator at Believers Academy, says, “J loves math and enjoys his job very much! He acquired a lot of great job and life skills at our school. As students master required education and career skills, we work closely with businesses to get our students employed. Our goal is to reduce reading and math deficits, while building job-ready and independent life skills. It worked for Javier!”
At his retail job, J counts money and operates a cash register. He helps customers find merchandise, restocks shelves and makes sure the fittings rooms are clean. “My job makes me feel responsible,” he says. “I know that I’m doing something right and glad I had the opportunity to attend school and work part-time prior to graduation.”
In addition to developing his math ability and retail skills, J cites the value of job interview and personal hygiene skills he learned. “Everyone needs these skills,” he says. I liked many of my classes because I learned good information, even if it’s not a career I want to pursue.”
Role play with teachers and classmates is a common practice during instruction at Believers Academy. During this time, J practiced interview skills, such as what to say, questions to expect, and how to dress. “I always wear a shirt and tie,” J adds with confidence. “I know that failure is not an option anymore for me and I’m proud of my progress.”
“I am to bless the world through what I am.” William Makepeace Thackeray