In a longstanding tradition, this week local businesses and nonprofits were treated to breakfast served with a side of appreciation at our Chatham school for students with special needs.

We honored 25 area employers for opening their doors to students this school year to learn new job skills. The school gym was transformed into a cozy café, with flowers and special place settings for each employer. Students delivered short speeches thanking the employers and awarded them small plaques.

Honorees included downtown Chatham businesses: Arminio’s Pizza, Bloomers, Dance Innovations, Keller Williams, the Library of the Chathams, Sorriso Kitchen, Tons of Toys and Weichert Realty.

These partnerships are an important part of ECLC’s transition program to prepare students for life as adults after graduation.

At both of our schools, during their final years of education, students enter the SKIL (Seeking Knowledge for Independent Living) program. They work on completing small jobs in school, such as making custom T-shirts or stuffing envelopes, and later go out into the community for job sampling. SKIL helps students make decisions about their post-graduate plans and narrow down the types of jobs in which they enjoy and can be successful.

“Our SKIL program provides students with concrete job skills and real experience in a workplace setting. They learn to interact with a supervisor, take direction and stay on task,” said the Chatham school SKIL Coordinator Stacie Webber. “We are so grateful to all the employers from Chatham and the surrounding area who make this program possible!”