Salem-Keizer Public Schools (SKPS) Student Services Director Eric Richards was honored with the Outstanding Administrator 2018 award during the Oregon Statewide Transition Conference on March 1. He was recognized for his contributions to the development of vocational special needs education and growth of post-secondary outcomes for students with special needs.

“Any individual award is largely a reflection of the excellent work of many colleagues,” said Richards. “This award affirms many staff who are involved in transition planning and the parents with whom they partner. It is also a recognition of the innovative and energetic leadership provided by Coordinators Melissa Glover and Brian Hilsabeck in their work with our Community Transition Program and Independent Living Programs.”

The Community Transition Program is designed to support adult students with disabilities, ages 18 to 21, after the completion of high school. The program prepares students to transition into their communities as adults through vocational training, independent-living skills development and functional academics.

SKPS transition programs partner with local businesses to offer work experience and internship opportunities for students, including hands-on training with job coaches at the work site. District-run programs also operate to increase opportunities for students, including coffee carts, flower arrangement and delivery, and designing and selling greeting cards for a variety of occasions. Students leave the transition programs equipped with a variety of skills to offer any future employer in a career of their choosing.

“We’ve seen such growth in our relationships with local providers who support adults with disabilities in accessing competitive, community based employment, and we really believe it’s because of Eric’s leadership and encouragement in this work,” said Melissa Glover, coordinator at Student Services. “We’ve seen students from our transition programs obtaining supported employment in the community well before they age out of our services, which is our ultimate goal.”

Salem-Keizer’s Student Services department is comprised of educational specialists who support parents with children who receive special education services.

“A major focus this year is on family engagement and we want to make sure that families of children who receive special education services in our district know that we are in partnership with them,” said Richards. “This award is the product of district leadership with high expectations for all students and most importantly, this award calls out the hard work of students who are forging their own path to a successful future.”

Click here to see Richards in action.