TAP Program seeks to benefit students at FD Senior High

The Transition Alliance Program at Fort Dodge Senior High helps students transition from high school to adulthood.

“Our end goal is always employment and having them be gainfully and competitively employed,” Jeff Halter, TAP coordinator, said. “As I tell people, it can be a matter of lots of things.”

The program helps 27 students, with still more coming in, with their various problems.

“They may need help with independent living skills. Our most popular one is finances, money management,” Halter said. “Lots of high school-age kids just aren’t familiar with that, or how much an apartment costs or what are all the things that need to be done not only to rent that apartment but to be able to afford it.”

Not only does TAP help students with career exploration, but also with preparing for college, including help with entrance exam preparation and filling out federal student aid forms, and helping students get their driver’s permits. If that’s not an option, it teaches students about public transportation services.

TAP also helps with their scholastic performance, making sure students keep up with their attendance, their assignments and are keeping their grades up.

“We just make sure that, while they’re in high school, they’re progressing toward whatever it is their career goal is,” Halter said.

The program is voluntary, but each student must have an individualized education plan, Halter said.

“That IEP can be anything from you have a full-blown medically diagnosed disability to you just have a reading goal or math goal where you are below your peers and you have an IEP to address that,” he said. “It can be anything along those lines.”

TAP helps students with their decision-making abilities, a key to progress.

“A lot of times it’s just showing them how their decisions or their lack of decisions are affecting them negatively, and just explaining to them what the alternatives are and what their options are, and walking them through those options,” Halter said.

Since starting in September, the program has seen many successes. Students are having fewer attendance problems, and more will likely be eligible for graduation this spring. These are also individual successes.

“We had a student who graduated early and is attending Iowa Central to get her nursing assistant certificate, and once she receives that she’s pretty much guaranteed a job with her current employer,” Halter said. “That was definitely a big thing, someone who may not have fully taken advantage of the opportunity had there not been someone to show her that’s available.”

Dave Keane, FDSH principal, said he is grateful the school was included in the pilot for the TAP program.

“We’re real fortunate to have the opportunity to receive the additional support,” he said. “Our kids have an opportunity now, not only those that are still here, but some who have recently graduated, to get some job coaching and placed in some jobs.”

He added, “I think the program’s going really well.”

According to Halter, the program, which is half-funded by Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services, will likely continue into next year.