Our Employment Services (ES) department fulfills many roles in the job placement of persons with disabilities. One branch of this department is the Discovery program. It is in this program that our trainers spend up to 16 hours working exclusively with clients. Through assessments and evaluation, ES coordinators are able to identify which kinds of positions are best fit for their clients. “We concentrate on what they can do,” explained ES employee Judy Houser, “not what they can’t do.”

The main goal of this program is to learn about the client’s abilities to succeed. Often the best way to do so is by working in a field of interest to them. This connection is a great way to get our clients excited about opportunities they might not have known were available.

Discovering New Heights

Chris smiles as he plays in an airplane simulator.

Chris was smiling from ear-to-ear during his Discovery field trip.

For their first meeting, Chris S. extended a warm welcome to Judy to his family’s home. While on a tour of the house, dozens of aircraft replicas lining every inch of Chris’s room caught Judy’s eye. “He had airplane models all over,” she stated. “Chris had every model, every engine and knew what each plane was used for. He was so knowledgeable!”

Taking this information and running with it, Judy planned a special field trip for the last week of Chris’s Discovery experience. Flying high and reaching for the sky, Chris had the opportunity of a lifetime accompanied by Nick Galli, student services manager, at Florida Institute of Technology’s College of Aeronautics. “[Nick was] wonderful,” said Judy. “He showed Chris what pilots do to train. Nick also explained the difference between single and double engine planes and let us ride in simulators. He was truly fabulous.”

Their tour ended up exceeding two hours, and all the while Judy was emphasizing how anything is possible for Chris. From her time with him over the course of the program, Judy discovered his exceptional organizational skills. She wanted to show Chris how he could combine this trait and his passion in a single working environment. “He would love to work with planes however he can,” she mentioned. “Even just washing, cleaning out, or filing a pilot’s paperwork is something he’d be interested in.”

After the tour finished, Chris was more inspired than ever to pursue a career centered around the thing he loved most. Taking away from this excursion that he can work in a facility like this is what the Discovery program is about. And this newfound confidence might just be enough to propel Chris into his dream job.