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Life Skills Program


Preparing for Lifelong Success

What is the Life Skills Program? Overview
O e e
20% of students in the Syracuse City School District receive Special Education services.
For many of these students there are few opportunities to learn important skills to
help them succeed after leaving high school. Classes, tutors and teachers prepare
the students academically but what about learning to manage their money? Making
a budget? Finding out what it takes to succeed at a job interview? What types of
employment are out there? Future educational opportunities?

The Life Skills Program is a cooperative effort between several leading agencies in the
Syracuse area designed to help these students succeed once they leave the comfort
zone of high school. Students are engaged through a combination of classes from
subject matter experts, field trips and hands-on work.

The Life Skills Program helps each individual plan for what he or she would like to do
after leaving school and gives students the opportunity to practice the skills they are
learning in class through real world experiences. It promotes movement from school
to post-school activities which includes post-secondary education, vocational training,
integrated competitive employment (including supported employment), continuing
and adult education, independent living, and community participation. It is an award-
winning, innovative, unique and active program in the Syracuse City School District.

Students build the necessary

Brian Pulvino skills to succeed both in and
Director of Special Education, Syracuse City School District out of the classroom (right).
Photograph: Michael Kieloch
Photograph: Michael Kieloch
Vocational Training Arc of Onondaga
Arc of Onondaga Supported Employment staff assist Life Skills students with practical
information on joining the work force. Instructors explore the reasons why people
work and how working can help people reach their goals. Students match goals,
values and income needs to help them find rewarding employment. Classroom
topics include strategies for finding career opportunities as well as investigating
various career fields.

Field Trips are also an integral part of this component. Students go on five field trips
to local employers and meet face-to-face with employees and management to find
out what it’s like to actually pursue a career in that field. Students take tours of the
businesses and have opportunities to ask questions.

Arc of Onondaga is a non-profit organization that primarily serves individuals with

intellectual and other developmental disabilities and their families. Opened in 1951,
Arc of Onondaga is the largest private provider of these services in Onondaga
County, serving thousands of people at 37 locations.
Bob Murphy (left), at General
Super Plating, shows a
manufacturing procedure to
two Life Skills students on the
factory floor
Financial Education Cooperative
p Federal
The Financial Education portion of the Life Skills program is provided
by Syracuse Cooperative Federal Credit Union. The curriculum for
the course was developed and tested with students in special needs
classrooms in the Syracuse City School District. The program helps
prepare students to make smart financial decisions on their own.
Lessons are interactive and hands-on and cover a range of topics including setting
financial goals, banking and investment basics, how credit works, consumer rights
and predatory lending awareness.
“Students learn through real life lessons how to save their money that they earn, how
to open and maintain an account, how to buy a car and even how
to plan on getting out of their parents’ house. All of the topics
covered during the program raised the students’ awareness
of their finances and helped them begin to plan for their
future.” - Jennifer Long & Jill Porter, Special Education Teachers,
Henninger High School


MONEY.” Students build the necessary
17 year old student, Nottingham High skills to succeed both in and
out of the classroom (right).
Photograph: Michael Kieloch
Photograph: Jim Cooke
Job Readiness LDACNY
Learning Disabilities Association of Central New York’s mission is
to enhance the quality of life for children and adults with learning
disabilities by providing advocacy, programs and educational
resources. The Life Skills program is an opportunity for the Learning
Disabilities Association of Central New York to assist high school
students with the daunting task of transitioning from high school
to the work environment. The areas that the Learning Disabilities
Association of Central New York concentrates on will equip students with the tools and
knowledge necessary to succeed in the work place.

• Support in order to determine students strengths and weaknesses with a focus on

• Teach students to develop and apply their strengths to the work environment.
• Instruction on the proper methods of obtaining and retaining a long-term position
in competitive employment. This includes the proper completion of applications, the
interview process, workplace culture and strategies specific to individual’s disabilities.
• Assistance for the student to understand their disability and how it may manifest itself
in the workplace.
• Explanation of the ADA and how it affects individuals with disabilities in the
• Proper communication skills and interaction with authority figures is a key focus
Students at Nottingham throughout the program with the hope that the lessons instilled in this program will be
High School learn about the used throughout the students’ lives.
dynamics of a successful job
search (at left).
Community Support Funders
Support of the community is vital to the success of students transitioning from high school. The success of these students
affects the entire community and encourages development of the local workforce and economy. Contact a Life Skills
program advocate to learn how you or your organization can support the Life Skills mission. Current funding comes from
the four partner organizations and the below funding partners.

Funding Partners

For more information on Life Skills, contact:

Thom Dellwo,,315-471-1116,ext.217
Peggie Keib,, 315-476-7441, ext. 128
or KatherineTeasdale-Edwards,, 315-435-4462

or visit
Design: Michael Kieloch. © 2008, Arc of Onondaga. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Names, logos, seals and photographs are copyrighted by their respective owners.
Life Skills Program
Arc of Onondaga • Cooperative Federal • Learning Disabilities Association of CNY • Syracuse City School District