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Iowa’s Super Senior Program: Building Satisfying Careers through Person Centered Planning & Intensive Community-Based Training A Partnership between: Grant Wood Area Education Agency, Goodwill Industries of SE Iowa, & The University of Iowa Center for

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Iowa’s Super Senior Program:Building Satisfying Careers through Person Centered Planning & Intensive Community-Based Training

A Partnership between:

Grant Wood Area Education Agency,

Goodwill Industries of SE Iowa, &

The University of Iowa Center for

Disabilities & Development

why super seniors
Why Super Seniors?
  • Students with disabilities in the middle range often fall through the cracks after high school
  • Surveys of recent Iowa City graduates showed less than desired employment outcomes for students in SCI programs (Self-Contained with Integration)
factors contributing to disappointing employment outcomes
Factors Contributing to Disappointing Employment Outcomes
  • Insufficient work experience
  • Poor job matches
  • Lack of assistance in finding, learning and keeping a job
what can we do about it iowa s super seniors program
9 High Schools in Rural, Urban and Suburban Iowa School Districts

Transition services designed to produce long-term employment outcomes through:

Person-centered planning,

Extensive community based training and

Individualized supports for finding, learning and keeping a job

Funded by the US Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs

What Can We Do About It? Iowa’s Super Seniors Program
ss elements process
Senior year


Person Centered Career Planning (PCCP)

Job shadows/tryouts w/updated PCCP

Extended work experiences w/updated PCCP

Ideal Job Match ID’d

Super Senior (5th) Year

20-40 hr/wk paid internship, with coaching & employer support

Additional courses/job training tailored to ideal job

Off-site support/training /counseling

Time limited follow-along support

Graduation; Maintenance of Job into adulthood

SS Elements & Process
additional super senior services
Career Counseling

Resume Writing Assistance

Job Applications

Interview Skills

Travel Training

Linkages to Community Resources

Social Security Benefits Planning Assistance

Additional Super Senior Services
meet earl a student who did not have career goal
Meet Earl:A student who did not have career goal
  • Earl is 19 years old.
  • He lives in a rural community with his family.
  • He refused all work experience offered at his high school.
  • He is working on getting his driver’s license.
earl s super seniors story making an informed career choice
Earl’s Super Seniors Story Making an Informed Career Choice
  • Prior work experience: helping his family at flea markets and antique shows.
  • Earl had unique knowledgeof antiques and collectables.
  • To capitalize on these skills, we arranged a working interview at an antique mall.
  • Earl was hiredon the spot for a temp job.
  • He worked 40+ hours per week
  • Earl earned $6 per hour.
  • After 6 months,the temp job ended.
  • Earl learned he enjoyed keeping things clean/organized and being around antiques.
  • Could we put this info to workfor Earl?
earl s super seniors story part 2
Earl’s Super Seniors Story Part 2
  • Staff learned of a possible openingat the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, where his knowledge of antiques would seem to be a good fit.
  • Earl interviews and is offered a job: 28 hrs/wk at $11.38/hour
  • Here he cleans and maintains the facility& conducts daily checks to ensure cleanliness.
  • Benefits of this job – more $, close to home, working with antiques and opportunity for promotion!
  • Most importantly,Earl tells us that “he loves it!”
  • Earl saves most of the money he’s earned to purchase a house.
  • Over $7,000has been put away so far!!!
what made ss work for earl
What Made SS Work for Earl?


  • Relationship developed through career planning with both Earl and his family;
  • Relationship developed through job shadows; and
  • Relationship developed through the job development and on-the-job training components.


meet bob a student still struggling to be successful
Meet Bob:A student still struggling to be successful
  • Bob is 18 years old
  • He’s had numerous jobs, most lasting 2-3 months.
  • Bob’s a capable worker and people like him.
  • He was on the verge of dropping out of school when referred to us.
  • Bob’s family and school are supportive and want him to succeed.
  • His drivers’ license is suspended for the first 6 months in the SS program
bob s super seniors story
Bob’s Super Seniors Story
  • Career Planning –
    • Bob’s dream job is to work in construction or something outdoors where he can make a decent wage ($9-12/hour)
    • He wants to earn enough to get his own apartment and get his fines paid off to get his license back.
  • A Job Shadow Leads to a Job–A Good First Step
    • Arrangements are made for Bob to earn HS graduation credits by working.
    • After a 1 day job shadow, he’s offered a job.
    • Bob gains full-time (plus) employment at a local concrete company earning $10/hour with benefits.
    • His employer is happy with Bob’s work
    • Bob loves his job!
making wise choices a challenge for bob
Making Wise Choices: A Challenge for Bob
  • 6 weeks later, Bob is caught smoking marijuana & fired.
  • A clean drug test would enable him to earn his job back
  • We arrange an unpaid internship at a construction company – where his work is rated as “excellent”.
  • Bob takes his drug test to return to his job at the concrete company.
  • Bob was so confident he would pass the test, that he smokes marijuana later that day.
  • The drug test contained traces of marijuana
bob s ss saga continues
Bob’s SS Saga Continues
  • Bob has learned his lesson--he vows no drugs on the job again.
  • We find work at another concrete company—Bob earns $10/hour; works 40+ hours/week.
  • 10 days later, Bob walks off the job after fighting with a co-worker. Employer reported that he was a “poor” worker.
  • After few weeks of individual job seeking, Bob was assisted in getting a job as a delivery helper for a regional ice company.
  • Employer praises Bob’s work. After 45 days, Bob disappears. No one can find him.
  • Bob had been arrested for driving w/o a license and had spent 5 days in jail. . . . . No license until 21 now.
  • Bob is working to pass a drug test, with placement support to be offered at that time.
did ss work for bob
Did SS Work for Bob?
  • On the plus side:He finished high school, had valuable work experiences and connected with adults committed to helping him succeed
  • On the minus side: we weren’t able to achieve stable, long-term employment.
  • Challenges we face in helping Bob succeed:
    • Getting Bob to take greater ownership and responsibility.
    • Helping Bob to understand the nature of his disability and habits.
    • Activating the family to help Bob understand the natural consequences of his behaviors.
    • Overcoming long-standing behavioral patterns.
    • Not having outward signs of a disability but functioning with significant limitations.
ss outcomes jobs obtained
Concrete Finishing



Welding/Heavy Equipment

Metal Prep/Painting



Pharmacy Technician

Security Officer



Animal Care



Food Service

Health Care


Computer Repair

SS Outcomes: Jobs Obtained
pre post ss employment outcomes hourly wage
Pre/Post SS Employment Outcomes:Hourly Wage







unexpected challenges
Unexpected Challenges
  • The degree to which students lacked prior work experience
  • Substance abuse/mental health issues
  • Insurance coverage
  • 5th year program participation IEP’s
  • Family capacity to support students
interested in starting your own super seniors program
We Can Provide:

Site Visit Opportunities

Phone/E-mail consultation

Written Information

Funding Information

Mini-Grants (2003/4)

Contact Information:

John Nietupski, SS Director


800.798.9771 ext 6442

4401 Sixth Street SW

Cedar Rapids, IA 52404-4499

Interested In Starting Your Own Super Seniors Program?

Super Seniors is supported in part by grant # H324R010020 and H324M010097 from the US Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs to Grant Wood Area Education Agency. No official Endorsement of the opinions expressed here should be inferred