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Vocational Learning

Working towards independence.

Inside and outside of our classrooms, we know that students learn best when they are doing.

That is why Ivy Street’s Vocational Department focuses career development and growth through an individualized and person-centered approach that is rooted in hands-on learning and supportive feedback.

What does that mean?

First, we explore possibilities, barriers, and successes in order to support students in defining the vision they have for their lives in the short and long term. Some students arrive at Ivy Street clear about their goals. Others have experienced trauma that has limited how they see themselves and what they can do. Many of our students fall somewhere in between. 

Then, in partnership with a Vocational Counselor, students work shoulder-to-shoulder to clear those barriers, define their vision, and map a path to realizing their goals.

In tandem, we build the infrastructure that prioritizes career and vocational exploration. We leverage curiosity, support individual goal setting, and work in partnership with each student to help them build and strengthen the skills and healing that is necessary to accelerate and promote self-determination and self-advocacy– two key ingredients in professional success.

Where do our students work?

  • Costco
  • Trader Joe’s
  • Springwell
  • Starbucks
  • Roche Brothers
  • Greater Boston Food Bank
  • Bikes Not Bombs
  • Polkadog Bakery
  • and more!

All the while, we do! Through volunteering, internships, campus-based employment, and competitive community-based employment — we partner with students to find the right fit at the right moment. It’s an evolution of skill, interest, and access that is student-led and team-supported.

Classrooms work through a sequenced Career Development curriculum with the support of Vocational Counselors. Students are engaged in interactive lessons and project-based learning related to Career Readiness, Employment Resources & SupportsResumes & Cover LettersJob Search & AcquisitionInterviewingDisability in the WorkforceJob Maintenance Strategies, and more.

Our approach to Career Development focuses on the strengths of the individual and is rooted in the foundational belief that meaningful employment is attainable for all that want to work. We seek to provide students with accessible examples, language, and opportunities to identify and explore their career interests.  

Students learn to use a point-of-sale system, manage a timecard, and earn their first paycheck in a range of campus-based employment opportunities we offer. Having a job on campus prepares them in navigating the many components of having a job, while supported in a safe and encouraging environment.

Community-based experiences are an integral component of our learning philosophy. We have a growing network of community partners that invest in our student’s learning and exploration through internships and volunteering. 

Vocational Counselors and Job Coaches provide support through the job search, interview, and acquisition process. We offer on-site job coaching to help connect students to natural supports and learn their responsibilities. Our supports are intended to be faded to promote the independence and agency of the individual in their job. 

“Ivy Street has given me a head start learning life skills that most people have to figure out on their own.”

Ivy Street School Student