Ten students from Sumner County Schools will participate in Project SEARCH at Welch College this fall, according to Dr. Greg Ketteman, Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and Dean of Graduate Education at Welch.
Ketteman said, “These young adults will continue their preparation to transition into the workforce after high school in the nationally acclaimed program designed to provide professionally-coached, on-the-job experiences for special needs students.”
According to Ketteman, “Welch College is one of just two Tennessee colleges hosting Project SEARCH. A partnership involving Sumner County Schools, Project SEARCH, the ACCESS Project, and the Tennessee Department of Human Services provides resources and personnel for the program while Welch College provides the program and job-training venue.”
Lead teacher Mrs. Cindy Hamblen, a 30+ year veteran employee of Sumner County Schools, and two Workplace Readiness Specialists will coach these students. Well known in Sumner County for her community leadership in establishment of sports programs for children with special needs, Mrs. Hamblen most recently worked with special needs students at Whitten Elementary School. “I am very enthusiastic about being a part of the continuing development of our Sumner County special needs students,” Hamblen said. “We have a solid partnership and outstanding professional team in place.”
Sumner County Schools Project SEARCH Liaison Shelley Vanegas said, “We are pleased for Welch College to open its doors to this experience for our Sumner County students. We are confident that under Mrs. Hamblen’s guidance, Project SEARCH at Welch will provide an outstanding learning experience for our transitioning students.”
ACCESS Project Liaison Tim Robbins said, “The Access Program is thrilled to be a part of the Sumner County Schools/Welch College Project SEARCH program. Our mission is to help prepare students for life and employment after high school. Project SEARCH is an awesome program that helps fulfill that mission.”
Tennessee Department of Human Services Liaison Linda Suddarth said, “Public-private partnerships like this one are an important part of the comprehensive effort to equip all individuals for success after high school.”
“Project SEARCH is a great way for Welch College to be authentic about our belief in the dignity and worth of each individual,” Ketteman remarked. “Providing a supportive, Christian venue for this life-changing, practical experience is a very concrete way for us to really make a difference in the lives of these students and their families, and in our community.”