April 28, 2014
After her six-month internship, Spencer Ragland advanced to full-time employee at the Mildred and Shirley L. Garrison Geriatric Education and Care Center. A year later, she still is employed at the center and works in the activities department.
Ragland is a 2013 graduate of the Burkhart Transition Academy and credits the program for assisting her with the skills needed to perform her daily tasks at work. The academy helps students with autism-spectrum disorder transition into higher education, vocational or other settings.
“It has helped me speak more clearly to people,” Ragland said. “It’s helped me with my motor and independent skills.”
Wendy Grimes, executive director/administrator at the Garrison Center, said Ragland is a role model employee, and the residents and staff love her. Ragland also does what is asked of her and is always in a great mood.
Spencer Ragland and her supervisor, Wendy Grimes.
“I think the best thing she brings is her smile and her love of the residents,” Grimes said. “If we had 100 employees like Spencer we would never have a problem.”
During her time at the academy, Ragland learned life, job and social skills that have helped her communicate and start conversations with people. She said the skills have made her more independent.
“It has helped me become a leader at work,” she said. “I’ve gained a lot of confidence.”
Ragland said her favorite memory at the center is when she helped with the Christmas party. She enjoyed seeing everyone happy. A special guest also helped make the Christmas party her favorite memory.
“Yeah, Santa Claus came and that was fun,” she said.
As part of Autism Awareness Month, Texas Tech Today is highlighting the work done by the Burkhart Transition Academy. Several academy graduates earn jobs on and off campus, thanks to partnerships between the academy and different businesses in the Lubbock community. Throughout the month, we will highlight some of the students who benefit from these partnerships.
The Burkhart Transition Academy is part of the College of Education’s Burkhart Center for Autism Education & Research. It provides postsecondary educational strength-based assessment to aid people with autism-spectrum disorder (ASD) transition to postsecondary higher education and vocational settings.
Classes for young adults with ASD having completed high school meet four days per week to teach life, job and social skills.
The 2014 Burkhart Walk for Autism Awareness will be held 2 p.m. April 27 (Sunday) at Jones AT&T Stadium. The walk is open to all members of the community, and participants can sign up individually or as teams. To learn more or register for the walk, click here