Friday, November 19, 2010

CCCOE and Los Medanos College Come Together to Serve Their Community

Within the past few years, the CCCOE and Los Medanos College (LMC) have come together in a special partnership to provide crucial services to East County infants, toddlers, and young adults, as well as their families, with both the College Connection Transition Program and Early Start Program. Both of these much-needed CCCOE programs are housed on the LMC campus.

The College Connection Transition Program is for students, ages 18-22, which are identified with special needs and have not yet received a high school diploma. The program offers numerous services to the students, including vocational interest assessments, life skills instruction, social and leisure skills development, speech therapy, ongoing evaluation of high school transcripts, and many more.

Instructor, Allan Saviskas said, "The CCCOE Transition class began here at LMC just a little more than a year ago. Currently, there are 14 students enrolled, with a total of 27 students who have attended since we've opened our doors." Giving an example of one of the services that the class provides, Allan said that this year the Transition Programs from DVC and LMC placed a dozen of their Summer Job Academy students in paying positions with Marshall's and CVS Drug Store.

Recently, LMC Interim President Richard Livingston visited the Transition Program. "He was quite impressed by the college classes our students were taking, and the fact that they were also working on vocational training, credit recovery toward their high school diploma, and independent living skills," reports Principal Barbara Berman.

Playgroup provides parents and siblings the opportunity participate with the student in learning signing and building communication skills. Pictured here playing in the LMC Child Care facility yard are (left to right): Marco Roman, sibling; Liliana Roman, mom; Mireya Salamasidis, instructional assistant; Gabriel Hidalgo, student; Fernando Roman, student; Alexa Ortega, student and Giants fan.

The CCCOE and LMC's partnership with Early Start began about five years ago. The Contra Costa County Office of Education also has Early Start programs at the CCCOE sites at Marchus School and O'Hara Park.

Early Start's teacher of deaf and hard of hearing infants and toddlers Sarah Buhre said, "We get our referrals from the California Newborn Hearing Screening Program, which helps to diagnose children at birth and gets the kids into Early Start by age six months. They will begin the program from anywhere between two weeks old to nine months old, or older. The children will then stay with us until they are three years old." The program works with east county kids who have exceptional needs, such as vision, hearing, orthopedic, or other developmental delays. At this time, the program has 26 kids enrolled, with a few new referrals waiting for assessments in the wings.

Then, longtime LMC president, Peter Garcia (currently DVC's interim president), visited Early Start, during this past summer, and was quite enthused with what he saw taking place on his campus. Sarah said, "President Garcia was quite impressed with the programs and enjoyed watching the children's circle time. He asked plenty of great questions about the program, such as how many students we served, what kinds of things we did on home visits, etc. He also said how happy he was that we were on the campus, and that Early Start was a great collaboration with the LMC's Child Study Center."

Our teachers, Allan and Sarah, have witnessed so many wonderful success stories, when it comes to the students attending these two programs. These stories would never materialize without their patience and hard work, as well as their fellow teachers and support staff - and the partnership of the CCCOE and LMC.