In 2015, Project SEARCH teacher, Mrs. Jill Rusk was the recipient of a Lawrence Township Education Foundation
Creative Classroom Grant. The project was to make Meditation Beads for Community North Hospital. Over 180 bracelets were given to patients at Community Hospital North and the Cancer Center. The project grew further in early 2016, with the class making Mediation Beads for all LT bus drivers and transportation staff following the tragic death of Amy Beverland Elementary principal, Mrs. Susan Jordan. The class also gave beads to various people they knew who were hospitalized.
The one person who excelled at the bead creation was Project SEARCH intern, Jessica Reed. Due to difficulty with her hospital rotations, the team had to create a meaningful rotation for her that included greater supervision. One day, Mrs. Rusk put Jessica on Excel, as she had good computer skills. The two of them spent time cataloging beads, ordering supplies, reviewing finished products, and tracking grant-related expenditures. Jessica was tasked with maintaining the spread sheets as well as creating the product. Additionally, she assisted other interns when they ran into difficulty making their meditation beads.
Jessica completed every step of the creation of the Meditation Beads without supervision. She was able to create from start to finish, enjoying the process and contributing to her increased independence. Everyone marveled at her skills!
Later in the spring semester there was increased concern around Jessica not having the experiences expected as part of the program, due to the need for more supervision than the program was able to provide. This prompted Mrs. Rusk to present the idea of Jessica starting her own business. With her computer and creative skills, this seemed like a logical step for her. It became a business and she had a positive outcome resulting from her time at Project SEARCH.
Jessica and Mrs. Rusk explored Etsy
, looking at the various products offered, and how orders are placed and filled. Jessica decided she would like to try. Together they created an Etsy page/business site, Designer Beads by Jessica.
Since then her site has grown and she even takes custom orders! Lawrence Township and Project SEARCH are so proud of her accomplishments and are grateful to the Foundation for making this process possible.
Per Mr. Bill Dreibelbis, Executive Director of the Office of Exceptional Learners share that this project is, "a great example of how our teachers look at students not for what they can't do, but when confronted with adversity, they focus on what students can do."
Learn more about the Project SEARCH program in Lawrence Township here