The Pathways to Adult Living (PAL), a program designed to ensure a successful transition from high school to independent living for 18-21 year old students, was the focus on the Educational Services Commission of New Jersey’s (ESCNJ) recent Better Together podcast. (http://www.teachertube.com/audio/escnjs-pathways-to-adult-living-pal-program-11237).

The ESCNJ’s Supervisor of Community-based Instruction (CBI) Raissa Prus, said PAL is for students who have completed their high school academic requirements, but “are not quite ready” to move on.

“They just need a little more time, and by focusing on job sampling, pedestrian safety, meal preparation and social skills, they will be well prepared for independent living when they complete the program,” she said.

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Ms. Prus added participants begin each day by meeting at the PAL building, at 95 Main Street, in the heart of the Sayreville business community.

“It is a great location because their peers are no longer in high school, and they also get to experience a different environment,” she said.

The location has also helped PAL quickly build relationships with community employers, with 12 already providing job training opportunities, including Total Hardware, Domino’s Pizza, Sunny Side Up Restaurant, Wawa, and ShopRite, Ms. Prus added.

 Sayreville Mayor Kennedy O’Brien said the community has a long history of supporting students with special needs.

 “Sayreville is a welcoming community,” said Mayor O’Brien.

“We have offered free summer camps for special needs students on behalf of the Brain Injury Alliance of New Jersey for years, and are delighted to integrate PAL into the community,” he said.

Roselle Public Schools Director of Special Services Monica Ahearn said her “staff was thrilled” when the PAL program came to their attention.

“Roselle has job training and other independent living services, but we do not have the resources to offer everything PAL has for students,” said Ms. Ahearn.

 “We are excited because our PAL students are receiving the job training and independent living support services they need,” she added.

Roselle Public Schools Supervisor of Special Services Angela Robinson said students and parents are full partners in determining if students could benefit from additional independent living skill support.

 “We typically speak with parents and students during 11th grade so there are no surprises,” said Ms. Robinson.

Although students participate in the graduation ceremony, it is difficult for them to return to high school while friends move on to college or jobs, said Ms. Robinson.

“The fact that they meet at a Sayreville business location instead of the high school is a definite plus,” Ms. Robinson added.

For PAL enrollment information, please contact Ms. Prus at rprus@escnj.k12.nj.us, or 732-777-9848 Ext. 5010.

The largest Educational Services Commission in the state, the ESCNJ provides special education services to school districts statewide, coordinates transportation services for over 10,000 students across the state, and manages a Co-op Pricing System with over 1,100 members, the largest cooperative buying program in New Jersey.