J'nylan restocks containers of sweetener at Friends Too before the lunch rush.
Students at Wayne High School are working in area businesses, thanks to a collaboration with Easterseals Arc.
On a Thursday morning in spring, J’nylan and Taylor were working at Friends Too, a restaurant on near the intersection of Illinois Road and Jefferson Boulevard.
Both students are getting their work experience at Friends Too through Easterseals Arc’s Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS). The program is designed to help students explore employment and education opportunities, including time working in participating businesses. Any student ages 14 to 22 with an IEP or 504 plan is eligible for Pre-ETS.
The two Wayne seniors took turns working in the dining area of the restaurant and in its kitchen. In the kitchen, Taylor stays busy loading and unloading the dishwasher and cleaning for most of her two-hour shift. As time allows, she pitches in on other cleaning, such as sweeping a part of the restaurant that opens only for rush periods.
“I like the work,” Taylor said. “I like to do the dishes. I like sweeping floors and cleaning windows.”
Taylor enjoys it enough that she expects to look for a job cleaning after high school. She also has taken classes in culinary work through Pre-ETS, so finding work as a cook is a possibility, too.
While Taylor was working behind the scenes, J’nylan was occupied in the front of Friends Too. He restocked holders at every table with packets of sweetener. He also washed windows, doors and door handles. Another part of his job is keeping bathrooms neat. J’Nylan said he enjoys the work, particularly cleaning windows and the front door, as well as sweeping and dusting.
Job coaches from Easterseals Arc accompany Pre-ETS students to their work sites, where they help train and supervise them as needed. Neither J’nylan nor Taylor require much supervision these days.
“They work very independently,” said job coach Catherine Kesith.
Friends Too hostess Vicki Hertenstein said the Pre-ETS students have been great to work with.
“It’s been awesome!” she said. “They’re polite. They listen. They do what they’re told. They’re good kids. It’s been a pleasant experience.”
Students in Pre-ETS at Wayne High School work at several sites, including PHP and Ivy Tech Community College.
Easterseals Arc began offering Pre-ETS at Wayne in the spring of 2017. The program has since expanded to also include students at South side, Homestead, Carroll, Columbia City, Northrop and Northside high schools.