Posted November 18, 2011
The Idaho School District 25 Vocational Opportunities for Independent Community-based Education (VOICE) program, which serves special needs students, held an open house on Nov. 18 to celebrate its new home in the Vocational Arts Building at Idaho State University.
The VOICE program is for School District 25 special needs students who have graduated from high school and are between the ages 18 and 21. The school district provides services for special needs students until they are 21 if it is appropriate and needed. VOICE is a community-based program that seeks to help transition these students from school into the work force and community, said Martha Fae Frymire, District 25 teacher and VOICE program director.
"The purpose of VOICE is to help transition these students into being contributing adults by teaching them a variety of skills," Frymire said. "Normal high school kids get out of high school and then get a job or go to college. Our students just need a little more help to get them there. We teach them the skills here so they can get a job and keep it."
Those skills include social and work-related skills, lessons on health and nutrition, and practical instruction such as how to read and use the bus schedules. VOICE also teaches self-safety and job-related skills, among other topics.
Previously, the program was housed at Highland High School, but the new location on the ISU campus is a much better fit for the program and its participants.
"The ISU location allows for a more real-life setting and access to the PRT [Pocatello Regional Transit]—a key to the success of the program," Frymire said. "The students are treated like adults and not as high school kids. We are very appreciative and thankful that Idaho State University has provided this space."
Frymire has been searching for the past four years to find the right place for the VOICE program. She came into contact with Laura Vailas, ISU's first lady, who, with the help of Laura Woodworth-Ney, associate vice president for academic affairs, helped find a new location for the program. Vailas and Woodworth-Ney worked with the ISU College of Technology leadership, former Dean Marilyn Davis and current Interim Dean Scott Rasmussen.
"Idaho State University is honored and pleased to support School District 25's transitional program," said Ney. "We are blessed to be part of the larger community in Pocatello and Southeast Idaho, and feel fortunate that we had this opportunity to assist the School District. This is one example of ongoing collaborative efforts with K-12 educators."
Being located on a college campus has benefitted VOICE in a variety of other ways. The VOICE students are on college campus with peers of the same age. Additionally, ISU has offered work opportunities for the VOICE students in a variety of programs and offices.
The District 25 VOICE program is the fourth special-needs-student vocational program to be associated with a college in Idaho, according to Frymire. Three other programs associated with colleges are located in Boise, Nampa and Twin Falls, with a new program in progress in Lewiston.
For more information regarding the District 25 VOICE, contact Martha Fae Frymire at (208) 223-2031.