2016 Employment First Summit  Trailblazing:  Charting Our Employment Path

It's All About the Network: Coordinating Assets in Real Time with Technology Data Based Decision Making
Jeremy Gooch, Tom Szambecki, Forrest Austin- Project SEARCH instructors

Project Search (PS) is an essential step toward Employment First outcomes. Data suggests national employment rates among PS graduates with moderate disabilities are currently 73% rather than the 13% rate for high school graduates with moderate disabilities.  Success is measured by a single metric:  a good job at the end of the Project SEARCH experience.  This session will examine and explore some of the exciting ways that technology and data are transforming the Project SEARCH experience and leading to high employment outcomes

Tom Szambecki, the instructor at PS @Via Christi, came to teaching at age 50. Prior to the transition Mr. Szambecki owned and sold 2 service businesses over a span of 26 years. He went to Bethel College for his undergraduate degree in Elementary Ed. / Special Ed from 1999 to 2003. His first teaching assignment was in a Special Day School teaching the Academically Challenged/ Emotionally Disturbed (ACED) from 2003 to 2007. He helped create and assume the role as lead teacher in a special day school (Maize Transition Skills Network aka Maize Trans-Net) for students with low-incidence disabilities in transition to adult outcomes from 2007 to 2014. He graduated from Wichita State University with a Masters in Functional Special Education in May, 2014 and started the PS @ Via Christi in November, 2014 where he continues to develop the program.

Jeremy Gooch is the Project SEARCH Instructor/Coordinator at Newton Medical Center and is employed through USD 373 in Newton Kansas.  He has a B.A. in Education from Wichita State University and a M.A. in School Leadership from Baker University.  Recently he has added an Endorsement in Adaptive SPED from Sterling College.  

Jeremy began his career to help students create a successful life for themselves, in Garden City by working as a teacher at the high school.  Then he took on a new challenge in Lyndon as a Head football coach and PE teacher.  Jeremy’s high expectations for the students paid off as they ended that year with a 4-5 record compared to a 1-8 record before he arrived.  It was after this year of coaching he realized there are bigger challenges out there in working with students.  Students that were typically shoved aside and not given a chance to do much in life.  This is when he decided to move back to Wichita to become an Adaptive Teacher.  

Jeremy found an area that he could really help the most and it grew from there. He has been part of a very successful Project SEARCH Program, which has had 100% employment three out of the five years.  He has developed many new approaches to help young adults with disabilities get a job and work towards being independent.  His major professional goal is being realized in the job he has by seeing young adults become successful in life.

Forrest Austin is an employment coach for the Johnson County Government Project SEARCH program. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Developmental Psychology from the University of Kansas. Forrest was a peer model in a peer support group for students on the autism spectrum in Shawnee Mission North High School. From there, he worked for a private developmental disability organization for 5 years where he did both day and residential work. In 2013, he began working for Johnson County Developmental Supports (JCDS) in their Day and Employment program.  There, he gained experience facilitating a number of common programs that employ adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, such as a sheltered workshop, business enclaves, and individual employment through Vocational Rehabilitation