You may notice him gliding through the halls in his wheelchair. A graduate now back at Averill Park High School, Christopher Conway is enrolled in a program that helps him develop job skills for his future.
Conway officially graduated last year with the Class of 2011, but thanks to a program to help students in special education get ready for the real world, he can continue to stay in a high school environment and have responsibilities that resemble those of various staff members in the district.
Being a student with an Individualized Education Program (IEP), he can stay at the school until he is 21.
“He is in the jobs program because he has an IEP,” said his teacher, Mrs. Ryan. “It is offered to most students in special ed, and it will help him get ready to have a job while he is still in school.”
Throughout the year, Conway will hold various jobs around the school. Some of his jobs include doing the attendance with the hall monitors and shredding paper in the mezzanine.
In addition, he operates the front door, opening it for students and visitors during the lunch blocks. He also does the morning mail delivery for the faculty and staff.
But his favorite job of all makes him smile with glee when mentioned. He has the privilege of walking Mr. Blais’ new puppy, Maddie.
Chris gets to spend some quality time with the pooch in the mornings, and when asked about the job, his entire mood transforms from solemn to a very happy one; he grinned from ear to ear as we talked about this favorite job that he has here at APHS.
That might come as a surprise to some people, considering the fact that Conway has cerebral palsy. The condition, which affects millions of people, confines him to his wheelchair. He can communicate through speech, but he also uses a touch screen that allows him to convey his thoughts using a computer. This aids him with his communication and helps him interact with people better than most in his situation. For example, using the touch screen, Conway was able to say that “walking the dog” was his favorite job to do.
It is amazing to see the technology that enables him to do much more than other people with his condition who lack the resources he has access to.
The great technologies allow him to have the potential to hold a job, and Conway will have a head start as he enters the job market, thanks to the program that helps him develop his job skills and the wonderful staff that is always there to lend a helping hand.