Vanderbilt Kennedy Center Co-Director Participates in Nashville Mayor?s Summit on Transition Services for Students with Disabilities

May 27, 2009


By: Jan Rosemergy

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean convened a Summit on May 4, 2009, on transition services--workforce and postsecondary--for students with disabilities.

The program included Mayor Karl Dean; Dr. Jesse Register, Director of Metro Nashville Public Schools; Nancy Eisenbrandt, Chief Operating Officer of the Nashville Chamber of Commerce; Dr. Kevin Churchwell, Chief Executive Officer of the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, and leadership and members of the Mayor's Advisory Council on Special Education, including its Co-Chairs Elise McMillan, Co-Director of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Excellence on Developmental Disabilities, and Wendy Tucker.

As Mayor Dean continues to shape public discussion on education, he recognizes the clear link between continued education, job training, and productive employment. All young adults in Davidson County should be given the opportunity to achieve not only in the classroom, but also in the workplace. This includes our students with disabilities.

The 2009 Mayor's Summit focused on four major topics:

  • Strengthening partnerships between Metro Schools and afterschool community organizations for students with disabilities.
  • Establishing school-based transition services programs for high school students, which include extensive community and business involvement.
  • Providing a continuum of vocational and job training opportunities by linking local businesses with Metro Schools for students with disabilities who are interested in obtaining meaningful work after graduation.
  • Developing relationships and informational pathways between postsecondary education institutions, MNPS, and students with disabilities.

A highlight of the Summit was a presentation on Project Opportunity, a job training program for young adults with developmental disabilities. This internship program is based within Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt where on-site work experience is provided for 18- to 22-year-olds with a desire to gain employment in a competitive work environment. Project Opportunity Coordinator Sara Ezell described the project, which is a model that other businesses could replicate.

Other Vanderbilt participants in the Summit were Dr. Carolyn Hughes, Professor of Special Education; Dr. Arie Nettles, Assistant Professor of Developmental Medicine and Cognition; Tammy Day, Director of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center Postsecondary Education Program; and Alice Kim, VKC Postsecondary Education Program Assistant.

Have Questions? Jan Rosemergy can answer your media-related questions or help connect you to one of our science or disability professionals.