The day school program reopened on July 7 after a three-week vacation. The break allowed administrative staff to catch up on projects and gave the students and school staff a chance to exhale. “The pandemic has made for a very tough year, and the teachers and staff appreciated the time off,” said Chief Executive Officer, Larry Sauer.
Residential Program Students Finally Get Chance to Explore
For the first time in a year and a half, the residential program students and staff got a chance to have fun off campus during the break and on weekends. Trips included:
- Seekonk Grand Prix – twice!
- Iggy’s Doughboys and Chowderhouse, Warwick, with a picnic at Oakland Beach
- Water Wizz in East Wareham
- Franklin Park Zoo in Boston
- Capron Park Zoo in Attleboro with takeout from Applebee’s
- Six Flags New England in Agawam
- Water Country in Portsmouth, NH
“Our residential program took advantage of the relative safety of outdoor activities to have some fun,” said Larry. “These activities brought a lot of joy to students and staff alike.”
Recruitment and Hiring Push Underway
Recruiting and hiring quality staff is critical to the school’s commitment to helping students with autism develop to their fullest potential. The Human Resources staff in collaboration with other departments has actively sought to fill open positions with top-notch employees. Over the summer, the school hired 10 employees: a head teacher, four assistant teachers, four residential staff, and an accounts payable specialist.
“We are largely in good shape with bringing staffing to an optimal level, and are in better shape than other private special education schools,” said Larry. “There’s a lot of competition for job openings, and we are focusing on recruiting quality candidates for the residential program.”
Spotlight on Challenges for Adults with Autism at July Virtual Presentation
Over 60 parents, employees, Board members, and other stakeholders gained a new appreciation for the challenges faced by adults on the autism spectrum at the League School’s July virtual forum. Michael John Carley, a parent of an adult son with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who recently discovered he also is on the spectrum, shared recommendations for improving employment for people with ASD.
Mr. Carley stated that there is a high unemployment rate for people with disabilities. People on the spectrum thrive at repetitive tasks and have excellent attention-to-details—skills that many without ASD often find boring. He recommends that companies with these types of positions explore hiring people with ASD. He lauded the League School for its vocational program that helps prepare students for the workforce.
Vocational Department Expands into Community
Students enrolled in the vocational program who have received all doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are going out to more job locations. Previously, the students were limited to outdoor jobs. Now, they are also going to indoor positions where social distancing is possible, including the Big Y bakery. “While it’s safe to do so, expanding our vocational program helps students gain valuable skills in a variety of venues,” said Larry. “We will continue to monitor the COVID Delta variant and make adjustments to our vocational program protocols as needed.”
Strategic Plan on Track for December Presentation
Since March, eight League School representatives representing a cross-section of Board members, Friends of League, and staff have met weekly to move forward with the League School’s recently initiated Strategic Planning process. With guidance from SOAR Consulting Group, the team developed mission and vision statements, defined the school’s core values, and completed an in-depth SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis.
Recently, we sent out a survey to staff, parents, and school districts to elicit feedback. To gather qualitative data, we are scheduling one-on-one interviews with the agencies that have jurisdiction over the school: the state’s Department of Early Education and Care and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. After the team reviews these results, we will move into the final step in the process: developing goals and objectives.
“The results of this process will help us develop a solid plan to move the organization into the future,” said Larry. These include priority areas to improve or advance:
- Development of the Moosehill Road property
- Fundraising model
- Programing approach
- Recruiting and retaining quality staff
The team is on track to present the fully developed Strategic Plan to the Board of Directors in December.