My experiences out in nature also brings me happiness. When the sky is at its darkest, during the new moon phase, and I head out away from the city lights, I notice the brilliance of the starts. I'm relearning the constellations. Immediately I notice the belt of Orion and then Gemini and Leo. I've seen the meteor showers around these constellations this past fall and early winter. Watching this light show in the stillness of the night allows me to ponder my place in the world. I reflect upon where I live and the freedoms I enjoy. These also bring peace and contentment to mind.
Working with your young adults at the Post High Learning Center, I have learned and am still learning of contentment. Your young adults are really special and I see in them an eternal greatness that will come to them. As a steward over their physical and mental well-being during the day, along with my staff, I feel a great sense of responsibility to care for them as best I can, as someday I'll be held accountable for my work with them. But, having worked with them in the short time I have been here, I notice that their needs for lots of material things are low. They treasure the relationships they have with their peers, the staff and the experiences they can have in this wonderful community.
Some of those experiences include various work opportunities as well as getting out just to go to the park to swing or walk around. Life is simple for them. They are content, in my opinion.
When I arrived here to work with these young adults back in January 2015 I took some time initially to observe this environment and to see what we could do here. I though of the following goal statement:
"By the time participants age out of the program at age 22, they will be able to live a fulfilled life, up to what their mental and physical capacities will allow. They will have learned:
- how to learn
- how to apply various job skills to use across various job
- how to take care of their personal lives through the life skills they have learned, and
- how to enjoy life being involved in recreational activities and serving other."
The Post High Program is a work in progress. Each year we make new contacts in the community who provide us with different opportunities. At the start of this school year we made relationships with businesses in the community who allow our students to come in to participate in various job opportunities. These business partners include ACE Hardware, Raindance Laundromat, Fiddlers Movie Theaters, Cedar Floral and Dairy Queen. The aides here at Post High will take 1-3 students to each of these job sites and under their watchful eye will help these students learn and perform the needed tasks. Most of the jobs are custodial in nature and throughout a week, the students rotate job sites so that they usually don't do to the same place in a given week. We really appreciate the owners and managers at these places who allow us to come to their businesses. the students not only learn various job skills, but they learn soft skills, such as communication and responsibility.
Last year Post high was able to install a kitchenette in the building. This new addition has been wonderful. Throughout each week our aides come up with some wonderful lessons to reach them skills involved in the kitchen, from learning basic food prep to kitchen hygiene. We also have a stacked washer and dryer and we are able to teach them basic laundry skills. The Clarion and Comfort Inn hotels have donated old bed sheets and towels that we can use to reach our students how to wash and dry these items as well as folding them. We're all trying to fold a fitted sheet. It's a struggle for all of us. Thank goodness for Youtube.
In addition to teaching them simple domestic skills, we also work on various survival skills, street smarts, if you will. We teach them to identify the signs in the community that they may come across as they walk around their community. We then put into practice what they have learned by going out into the community and identify those signs and practice various safety skills, like crossing the street safely.
We love to get the students our in the community to experience various recreational activities. Throughout each week, when the weather is good, we take them to some of the parks here in town or we may take them to some of the stores. They love to go to Cal-Ranch especially when they have the chicks and bunnies in the store.
Our program is for the most part self sufficient. By doing work in one of the businesses, we receive store credit which helps us pay for some of our supplies we need in our program. Each Valentine's Day we have a Valentine Fundraiser where our students put together Valentine Bouquets and sell them throughout the community. This year will mark our fourth year of doing this fundraiser. The students do a great job of putting the bouquets together then they get the opportunity to deliver them to those who have prepaid for them. Be looking for flyers coming out in mid-January for this fundraiser. Delivery of bouquets will be on Valentine's Day, Wednesday Feb. 14th. Your support in this is greatly appreciated, as these funds continue to help us buy supplies for our program.
An important part of my quest for creating a quality program here is to create an emergency preparedness plan. I have been working with John Higley, the Iron County Emergency Management Specialist, and together we have created an Emergency Evacuation Plan. This plan has been filed with the ICSD management team. Just to let you know, internally we are putting together "Go Bags" for each of your students. In the rare case where we would have to evacuate our building due to an emergency, we will have a bag for each of your student, properly identified, and stocked with bottled water, a blanket, some snacks and a little activity they can do, like color in a coloring book, to keep them busy. If you would like to add something to your students "Go Bag", please feel free to bring it in and we will put it in their bag.
We have also created badges with lanyards for each of the students with their contact info and medical needs, if any, so that emergency personnel will know how to address them. As a staff we have reviewed our emergency evacuation plans in our staff meetings and will continue to review them monthly.
Our building has been updated with the latest and greatest fire alarms, smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. The local fire marshall has cleared our building as safe. We will be having monthly fire drills so that the students know how to exit safely in case of an emergency.
To make our community aware of our population of students, I am participating in the Southwest Utah Public Health Departments "Access and Functional Needs Coalition". I have registered our building and the number of students in our program here with the "Utah Special Needs Registry", commonly referred to as 2-1-1. This is just for planning purposes for the county emergency managers. In addition to this, I have also registered as a contact person for "UNIS", the Utah Notification Information System. What is UNIS? From their website https://unis.utah.gov/ it reads: The Utah Notification & Information System (UNIS) is a secure communication system that exchanges information within and between agencies and disciplines throughout the State of Utah. UNIS utilizes multiple formats to deliver notifications which include email, phone, fax, pager, and text messaging."
The Post High program follows the same calendar as the rest of the school district. Please take note of the upcoming dates:
- December 21-Jan 1st Winter Break- No School
- Jan. 15th- Martin Luther King Day- No School
- Feb. 5-11th- CCR Conferences- School is out at 1:00 daily. No late start Wednesday this week.
- Feb. 19th- Presidents Day- No School
- March 8 and 9th- Teacher contract day- No school for students
- April 2-6- Spring Break- No School
- May 23- Last day of school
We here at the Post High Learning Center really do love and appreciate each one of your students. Life is never dull here at Post High as each day brings a new adventure. We really appreciate the trust you have in us to take care of your students.
Merry Christmas to all and we will see you and your students on January 2nd as we begin the second half of our school year and a new year.
Jerel Johnson, MPH
Post High Coordinator