Over the past two years, Little Friends has proudly offered our high school students the opportunity to explore a variety of job tasks and vocational skills using our Practical Assessment Exploration System (PAES) Lab. This Work Development Curriculum assists students with disabilities in learning job and life skills, exploring a variety of work areas, and learning what type of jobs they are good at and enjoy doing.  This underscores Little Friends continued commitment to vocational training, supporting those we serve in their transition to adulthood and increasing independence.

PAES is run just like a small business. We have converted a classroom at Krejci Academy into a simulated work environment, where the teacher is the boss, and the students are the employees.  The students in PAES learn and develop proper work behaviors, as they are expected to act and dress appropriately for work as well as cooperate with their co-workers and supervisors.  Students punch a time clock and get paid in simulated money as they explore hundreds of jobs with hands-on activities.

We have seen tremendous growth in our students participating in this program.  Alex, a self-proclaimed “Construction Whiz,” has discovered he enjoys construction jobs, especially pipe assembly tasks, and has learned that doing the job correctly is more important than doing the job as fast as possible. And Nikko has shown significant progress in letting his teacher/supervisor know when he needs help, as is now more open to learning new skills and trying unfamiliar tasks. He has found he excels at jobs testing his visuospatial abilities and can complete some of them in less than a minute!

The PAES lab at Little Friends Krejci Academy was made possible by generous donations from The Driskill Foundation and Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation-Midwest Division.