Asbury University and Jessamine County Schools Join to Help Students Experience University
Partnership opens University doors to students with special needs. On the campus of Asbury University, Jessamine County high school students take part in a program that reaps noticeable benefits for 18- to 21-year old individuals with special needs. The Connections Program, a partnership of the community, school district, and University, gives these students opportunities to study, work, and socialize with others in their own age group.
Up to six Jessamine County students a year, who are in a certificate program and eligible for alternate portfolios, may participate in the Jessamine Connection program. Regulations in accordance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) specify that students, who typically participate in the alternate portfolio program, receive a certificate of program completion. These students generally continue educational services up to age 21. Jessamine County students use their Connections Program experiences to contribute to their Individual Education Program requirements for receipt of their certificates of program completion. Students may audit a variety of classes on Asbury University campus. Students are on campus full-time and the curriculum includes recreation, children’s literature, technology in education, introduction to communications, art and music appreciation, children’s ministry, horseback riding and elementary school mathematics.
The Jessamine County school district provides transportation and insurance, funds a salary for a teacher and instructional assistant, as well as supplements dining cards for program participants. Asbury waives tuition, provides office space, and issues regular campus identification cards that admit Connections students to Asbury facilities and events. The students work two mornings a week on campus or in the community in preparation for permanent job placement upon completion of their education.
Asbury faculty members participate by allowing Connections students to audit their classes with minimal adjustments to the curriculum. The teacher and assistant attend classes with the students to offer assistance and modifications of the curriculum in addition to offering support to Asbury faculty. Asbury and Connection students collaborate in and out of classroom settings.
The results of this nineteen-year partnership have been positive for both Connections and Asbury students.