School Spotlight: Wayzata Transition
Communication is a skill needed for every aspect of life, but not everyone has the ability to communicate well. At least, not without a little help. That’s where Anne Augustson comes into play.
She’s a teacher with the new Wayzata Transition program, which helps students between the ages of 18 and 21 learn basic life skills.
“Young adults with disabilities have true potential, and just as many abilities as everybody in their community,” said Augustson, a special education teacher.
Wayzata Transition aims to help them unlock that potential.
During a recent lesson on communication, a student asked a question, and a different student attempted to provide a relevant answer. Some students even used a computer to act as their voice.
“Communication is our No. 1 priority for our students,” Augustson said. “Because that’s gonna help them be successful in work, in their jobs, in classes, hanging out with friends. So in order to communicate your needs and have conversation, it’s gonna get you forward in life.”
Prior to this year, students in the area with special needs went to an intermediate school district to learn these skills. Then, parents asked Wayzata to bring the program back.
Joanne Karch is the one leading it.
“The district decided that, do we have enough interest? And can we do it? Do we have space? And all of those pieces fell into place last spring and here we go,” said Karch, Wayzata’s Special Services Supervisor.
The space they’re using for Wayzata Transition once served as the clubhouse for Elm Creek Golf Course in Plymouth.
Now, it’s used to teach these young adults things like how to cook, do laundry and enter the workforce.
“It’s all of those things that we do every day that we take for granted that we don’t even have to think about,” Karch said. “It’s really explicit training and step-by-step.”
The idea of “success” looks different for each of the 15 students involved in the program, but even an incremental step forward will help them in the next stage of life.
“I just feel really happy every day when I leave here, knowing that I have made an impact,” Augustson said.
Wayzata Transition has nine partnerships in the community where students can work or volunteer. District officials say they expect the transition program to grow by an additional ten students next school year.