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Lane School students benefit from partnership with local business

James Mitchell stands next to his job coach Raymond Gonzalez, student Abel Leon, Lane School job director Bob Toner, student William Duncan and coach Vickie Shirtz. The students are learning job skills and social behaviors as the work at the Shell service station at 1950 North Sam Houston Parkway East.

Students from the Ellen B. Lane and other AISD schools are benefitting from the District’s relationship with business partners such as Shell and Burger King.

Students who face a wide range of mental and physical challenges arrive at the combination store every day accompanied by their job coaches.
Once they arrive, they are assigned tasks such as stocking coolers, cleaning gas pumps, washing windows and straightening merchandise.

Through these activities, performed under the watchful eye of their job coaches, they learn both work and social skills.

Long time coaches Vickie Shirtz and Raymond Gonzalez work with two students at a time. The skills they teach their charges will not only make them employable and functional in the community, they will help them to qualify for a post-secondary program that offers long-term employment, work-orientated services and residential living.

According to Bob Toner, job coach with Lane, this type of experience is difficult to simulate within the schools. The program relies on business partners like Shell and Burger King to provide opportunities where students can learn behaviors through interactions with co-workers that occur naturally in a work setting. School administrators carefully screen the students, who exhibit a wide range of mental and physical challenges, to match each individual with the right job.

Ahmed “Danny” Dhanani, operations manager of Gulshan Enterprises, Inc. and owner of the Sam Houston Parkway location recommends the program to other retailers and credits its success to helping his station fully integrate into the community