Unique Career Day Provides Options for Students with Intellectual and Emotional Disabilities

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March 28, 2019 by HCDE Communications

Students ranging in age from 6-21 were introduced to career options as an array of traditional and atypical professionals visited Harris County Department of Education’s Academic and Behavior School East for Career Day 2019 on March 22.

Career fair guests at the special school for students with emotional and behavioral disabilities included a judge, a deejay, an inspirational speaker, a lawyer, a nurse, a radio personality and a makeup artist/photographer as students were introduced to a myriad of career options.

View event photos: https://bit.ly/2Wy39ZH (password is hcde1889)

Exhibitors included the Aquarium, the Marines, a canine drug unit, a caricature artist, trade professionals from local community colleges, a technology school, a barber college, and a comedian radio personality.

Vocational teacher Kimberly Curtis coordinated the event for the past four months, acquiring speakers and presenters. She was challenged to find topics which would catch the interest of students from elementary to middle to high school.

“Eventually all our students are going to be in high school, so they need to get exposure to careers as early as possible,” Curtis said. “If you make this fun, kids will soak in more of the possibilities.”

Students at AB School East are enrolled in the special school by local school districts on a contractual basis. A low student-to-teacher ratio, individual education plans and a behavioral specialist are among the ingredients the school supplies for students to be successful. The ultimate goal is for students to return to their home school environments. The school’s population includes students with intellectual disabilities, autism and behavioral disorders.


“Many of these students may not go to college, but there are so many viable options in trades, technical careers and apprenticeships,” said Keith Oliphant, principal at AB East, located near Gulfgate Mall in southeast Houston.

As a vocational specialist, Curtis stressed the importance of bringing the outside world into the classroom, especially when some students may not have the opportunity to travel outside their Houston neighborhoods.

“Exposure to professions goes a long way,” said the vocational counselor. “Years from now they will still remember this experience. Events like this also go a long way towards boosting students’ self esteem.”

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