For graduates of post-secondary programs in Carroll, a greater chance for success in the community

CCPS has a total of five post-secondary programs, which are for students with intellectual disabilities who have completed high school but still receive services through their 21st birthday.

For most, graduation brings a diploma.

But for nine Carroll County Public Schools students who graduated from the system’s post-secondary programs on Friday, graduation brought a Maryland Certificate of Program Completion and — more importantly — job skills to better find success in life.


CCPS has five post-secondary programs, which are for students with intellectual disabilities who have completed high school but still receive services through their 21st birthday, said Mary Pat Dye, the program coordinator for post-secondary services. Prior to the post-secondary program, these students are in the schools’ Learning for Independence programs.

The five programs are in partnership with McDaniel College, Carroll Community College, Carroll Hospital, the Division of Rehabilitation Services, local community rehabilitation providers and the Carroll business community, she said. The programs are: TE@M (Transition Education @ McDaniel), TE@CH (Transition Education at Carroll Hospital), ST@CC (Seamless Transition at Carroll Community), TCP (Transition Connections Program) and VOICE (Vocational Opportunities for Independent Change and Empowerment).

“Prior to having any of the post-secondary programs, what happened was students were … returning to their home school. They weren’t going through graduation as a senior. They were staying until they were 21 and then going through that graduation ... later, which was not appropriate,” she said.

The big impetus for creating the programs was to help these students be in an age-appropriate setting, Dye added.

They started with just one program and had more than 40 students in it with a wide range of ability. Seeing the different levels of independence gave them the opportunity to create additional programs, Dye said.

“The biggest thing is giving our students as much work-based learning opportunity as possible because all the research has shown it’s improving post-school outcomes for students with disabilities and it really gives students an opportunity to identify their interests and their skills and their abilities and it gives them opportunities to understand employer expectations [and] good work habits,” she said.

The ultimate goal is for the students to have paid integrated community employment before they leave the system. If that doesn’t happen, the students at least leave with job experience, she said.

And after they leave, they transition into programs like The Arc, Target or Change, she said.

Each of the programs offers work-based learning opportunities which could include career exploration, job shadowing, work sampling, internships and paid employment, Dye said via email.

For Jacob Kuykendall, 21, of Mount Airy, being a part of a post-secondary program helped him learn about goals and how to work at a job. Kuykendall will graduate from the Seamless Transition @ Carroll Community program.

During his time in the program, he said he made a lot of friends. His favorite part was the on-campus jobs, he said, where he did housekeeping and work in the cafe. After finishing the program, he hopes to look at other programs in the county like The Arc.

“I’m a good team player and I always do my best,” he said.

Adam Ackerman, 21, of Finksburg, will graduate from the Transition Education @ Carroll Hospital program. He started in the Transition Connections Program, then went to the Seamless Transition @ Carroll Community program, before ending up at the hospital program, where he has since been offered paid employment.

“I’m a hard worker. I like to work. Keep going. Keep the pace going,” Ackerman said.


After graduation, the plan is to continue to work and maybe look at going to college. But first, he said, he wants to get his driver’s license.

Ackerman said he liked the post-secondary programs because he was able to get work experience, meet new people and get out into the community.

“I learned just keep going and to take pride in your work,” he said.