Continental Project's Purpose
Considering how to better support the students we served, Dave Penny & Stephanie Rust spent most of 1991 designing and developing the Continental Project. Dave Penny pioneered the program as Continental Project's first director.Upon his retirement in 1995, Stephanie followed his collaborative lead and slowly found a way to continue without his daily wisdom, guidance & humor. Our singular purpose in this program design is to help students with special learning needs gain the work adjustment and interpersonal skills critical for job retention. We do this in partnership with seven local businesses who allow us access to their entry level jobs as the training sites for our students. In these sites our students learn not only the skills needed for the specific jobs, but they also refine and polish the behaviors research has told us are critical for keeping a job. Our students receive high school credit for their work as well as an hourly wage based on their individual level of productivity. They often come to us with little sense of their skills or talents, having spent years focusing on their disability-related weaknesses. We have a substantially different philosophy, for we start with our student's strengths, and help them realize how those skills have value in the labor market. Then, utilizing Mrs. Rust's skills as a nationally Certified Vocational Evaluator, we alert them to their behavior patterns which will likely cause them to struggle as an adult; offering to help them if they are ready to make changes and polish 'those old bad habits'. It doesn't take long before our students find relevance in all they do . . for now they are acutely aware that every change they make brings another layer of success.