Life preparation

Lillian Bowe: Staff photo Miguel Chavez, left, sweeps the floor of the cafeteria with the help of Joseph Montoya.

Lillian Bowe: Staff photo
Miguel Chavez, left, sweeps the floor of the cafeteria with the help of Joseph Montoya.

By Lillian Bowe
Staff writer
lbowe@pntonline.com

An injured knee didn’t stop Portales High School sophomore Joseph Montoya from going to Lindsey-Steiner Ele-mentary School on Wednesday to work with its custodians.

“I really like working here and it is fun,” said Montoya as he swept the floor of the cafeteria.

Montoya, 16, is part of a pilot program for special education students at PHS which takes the students to Lindsey-Steiner to work for class credit and a stipend.

Barbara Isaacs, the department head of the Special Education Department at PHS, said the group was started last fall with a class that taught students how to fill out resumes, how to dress professional, and other basic job skills.

Then, in January, Isaacs was able to get the students to go to Lindsey-Steiner to work with the custodians.

“The students get to meet new people and earn job experience outside of the high school,” Isaacs said.

Austin Fannin, a sophomore, said working at the elementary school has given him confidence.

“It helps me get more prepared for working outside of high school,” Fannin said.

Miguel Chavez, a junior, also said he had gained experience and has learned valuable skills.

Homero Aguirre, custodian at Lindsey-Steiner, supervises the three students on Wednesday as they clean the cafeteria after lunch. Aguirre said he likes working with the students and they are a big help.

“They listen to me, follow direction and they are very eager to work,” Aguirre said.

The students main responsibility is to sweep and mop the floors of the cafeteria, but they sometimes sweep the halls or pull weeds outside in the near hour-and-a-half they have at the school.

Isaacs said she hopes the program will grow and more schools around Portales will be involved.

“This program helps the kids gain experiences and references for a life outside of high school,” Isaacs said.

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