Since 1999, Graylyn has committed resources, staff and time to train students with developmental needs through the Satellite Program, formerly known as Project Dream. As a part of the occupational course of study, students receive paid internships in housekeeping, laundry, room service, conference set-up, food & beverage, and grounds. For many students, this is the final step to earning their high school diploma.
The main goal of the program is to help these students successfully transition from school to work and life on their own.
“It’s not just teaching them the job skills, it’s teaching them life skills,” said Debbie Doub, a job coach for Winston-Salem, Forsyth County Schools.
Christy Lennon, a former HR Partner at Graylyn and Wake Forest, has helped to coordinate the program from the beginning.
“The students learn so much about what real work is all about, and they teach the staff at Graylyn about kids with developmental needs,” said Lennon.
“ By the end of the semesters, you can see how both job skills and interpersonal skills have developed.”.
Both Lennon and Doub stress the importance of the mentorship each students receives through the program. From something as small as remembering to wear a nametag and receiving their first paycheck to loftier goals such as saving for a cell phone or car, their managers prepare them for success in the work environment after graduation.
“Supervisors mentor them, they take them under their wing, they really take ownership of them. They make sure they get the training they need,” says Doub.
She says many former students and supervisors form relationships that continue for years to come.
Graylyn provides the students more than just experience in the working world, they treat them as coworkers and equals, providing support as they learn technical skills and to navigate the working world. Many former students have received job offers for permanent positions, and some are still currently employed at Graylyn.