Interview with Ryan Driscoll, CPS Transition Team member

Pat Maher posed a number of questions to Ryan in advance of SPR hosting a group of students with disabilities for Job Shadow Day on Friday, April 17th.


How long have you been with CPS and what is your role and responsibilities?

I’ve been at CPS on the Transition team for three years. Last year we started a new program geared toward preparing students for work. We teach soft skills, customer service skills, prepare resumes, assist with online applications, conduct mock interviews, and we contact employers throughout the city to help place job ready students in part time jobs. If a student is successful in landing a job, we follow up regularly to help the student retain their position and balance work with their academics.

Why is MOPD/CPS Job Shadow Day so important for the students?

The students who participate in Job Shadow Day get the opportunity to interact with professionals in careers they may have never imagined. The priority in schools is for students to be prepared for college. For many students, college and the education received there is an abstract concept. I think it is helpful to show students exactly why it’s so important to study hard and get a college degree. The ultimate goal is getting a good job you can feel proud of and to be able to support yourself and your family.

Do the students need to qualify for this opportunity? If yes, what is required of them?

In order to qualify for Job Shadow Day, students need to participate in Disability Mentoring Day at Malcolm X College which we usually do in mid November. Last year we had over 300 students attend. Students participate in break out sessions throughout the day. We’ve had presentations including, Careers in Healthcare, Careers in Retail, Creating an Awesome Resume, Careers with Animals, Know your Rights in the Workplace, Tips for Completing Online Applications, and many more. this past year we had 13 different sessions the students could choose from. We try to assign students to Job Shadow Day employers based on the sessions they registered for and showed interest in.

If not, do the students need to sign up or are they assigned by their teachers/schools?

Teachers and case managers are informed early in the year about DMD and Job Shadow Day. We ask the teachers and case managers to help students complete a registration form and get consent forms signed by parents and returned by our deadline.

What can you tell me about both International Charter and Excel Academy?

I’ve actually never been to Excel Academy. I’m assigned to networks on the North and West sides. From my understanding, Excel is an accelerated school which means the student maybe was not attending their classes in their assigned school and was at risk for dropping out. Excel is a charter school with a modified curriculum that may allow a student to graduate in 2.5 years.

CICS-Northtown is another charter school. I’m pretty sure they are a traditional 4 year school with regular curriculum. They also have a classroom for students with more significant disabilities that are able to stay beyond 4 years in order to work on transition related skills such as independent living, work skills, etc. A number of students in that classroom are participants in my program and are working at the Jewel down the street.

What do you think the students’ expectations are for the morning?

It really depends on the student. Based on some of the other Job Shadow Day sessions I’ve supported, it seems some students are just excited to be downtown and seeing what happens behind the scenes.

The best JSD events are interactive, and reach students on their level. I always find it interesting to hear some of the employers’ career paths they took to get where they are. I think that helps students see that their goal is attainable if they take the right steps.

Any additional thoughts?

Just excited for the day!

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