Transition student Nathan sorting library books

Skokie Public Library Partnership

JCFS Chicago Knapp School and Yeshiva partnered with the Skokie Public Library for more than 5 years to provide students with a wonderful opportunity to build skills and gain confidence. Dawn Wlezien, Volunteer/SALS Specialist, has overseen the partnership program since its start and as the number of volunteers grew, she has seen the opportunities for students increase, too.

Dawn came up with different jobs that the library needed that were also suited for individuals with different functioning levels. Some of these jobs included maintaining each kiosk for member use, dusting and cleaning DVDs and CDs, shredding, sorting and cleaning toys in the play area, making buttons for the summer reading program and so much more. In total, there are 24 tasks available that can be requested depending on the time of year or individual need. Transition student Nathan who works at the library sorting books shared that "this experience has helped me to realize what a business is looking for. I have much more confidence in my skills in the workplace."

Lorrie Hansen, School Services Librarians for grades K-12 shared that these students are a valued and important part of the staff. "We love having them in our space. They provide a great energy and it's noticeable when they aren't here. I also appreciate their attention to detail and follow through with all the tasks they complete. It's important that things are done in a certain way, and they are always extremely reliable and accountable with their work." 

Kelvin Warner, JCFS Knapp School classroom aide for more than 18 years who's overseen the JCFS Knapp School Transition and Vocational program since its start in 2013 shared his observations. "I'm so very proud of the work we do with our students. I recognize that in today's workforce, the skill set needed is very different from what was needed 20 years ago. I've seen our job sites including the Skokie Public Library provide a place for students to develop the skills necessary to be successful once they leave our setting."

Learn more about the Knapp School's Life Skills Program and the opportunities for students.

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