The College of Education has been a proud partner of Long Beach Unified School District’s (LBUSD) Adult Community Transition (ACT) Program since 1988. Initially beginning with the support of LBUSD and several CSULB administrators, the program has continued to grow throughout the years providing services in the areas of access, accountability, and achievement to students with disabilities, ages 18-22.
Terri Wargo, one of two teachers who hold class with their ACT students in the College of Education, shared details of the program’s genesis and continued success. “I felt and continue to feel each day that sense of urgency to ensure quality education for all, thus quality of life for all…” said Terri. Since joining the program in 1994, Terri has seen the program double in size, now serving 30 students on-site at CSULB.
Creating confidence and independence in all aspects of students’ lives is fundamental to this program. Each week provides a mix of life skills, academic lessons, and vocational training with approximately 35% of ACT students leaving the program with a job (compared with the national average of 18.7% of people with a disability employed1). Part of the program’s success is due to the implementation of best practices in every step, including, community safety, mobility, and integration; self-advocacy and self-determination; communication and social skills; vocational education/employment; independent living and functional academics; inter-agency and family involvement; and results-oriented student-centered planning. “It is our job to give them roots and wings,” says Terri.
With all of these elements in practice, students are better equipped to lead a more independent life. An average week in the program can consist of a mix of hands-on vocational training with community business partners; functional academics focusing on budgeting, calendar management, and organizational skills; and also classes such as art, drama, and adaptive PE. The students then go into the community during the week to put all their skills to use.
Terri shares, “By the time our students leave the ACT program, many of them are empowered to further their education, many of them have jobs, some move out independently, quite a few have received their driver’s license, and a few have chosen to get married. Many had overcome adversities and all are on a journey of their own. They are all better equipped with the knowledge and tools they need to live according to their own definition of success.”