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Members of the first Project SEARCH program gather for a photo with Worcester County Board of Education President Bill Gordy, in back, second from right, and Superintendent Lou Taylor, back, right, during the Board of Education monthly meeting on Tuesday, March 19. Secondary Transition Teacher Matthew Elburn, who introduced the program in Worcester County, displays a certificate of recognition.

(March 22, 2019) The Project SEARCH program was established at Atlantic General Hospital in Berlin last summer for students with disabilities to receive unique job experience while completing high school courses.

Supervisor of Special Education Rae N. Record described to Worcester County Board of Education members on Tuesday the experiences the first four interns involved in the Project SEARCH program had and what jobs they participated in.

“This year is our first year of implementation,” Record said. “It is a collaborative effort. It is one of our main projects with secondary education [which] helps our students become gainfully employed upon graduation.”

Project SEARCH is a high school transition program, with more than 500 locations in the U.S. and 10 countries. The primary objective is to secure competitive employment for individuals with developmental disabilities. Worcester is the first county on the Eastern Shore to adopt this program, Record said.

The SEARCH Program is a partnership between Atlantic General Hospital, the Worcester County Board of Education, Worcester County Developmental Center and the Maryland Department of Education’s Division of Rehabilitation Services.

“To work with our interns and train them has been truly remarkable,” Record said.

During Tuesday’s presentation, Record showed a video of the interns talking about the work they did and what they learned.

“Project SEARCH has given me confidence,” Intern DeShawn Collins said in the video.

“I work by myself,” Intern Bradley Dornes added. “I talk to my coworkers [and] I’m good at my job. I’ve got a lot of work.”

The interns perform several tasks including sterilizing equipment and patient rooms, escorting patients to surgery, organizing paperwork and labeling medical supplies.

In September, the first class of Project SEARCH interns began their year of on-the-job training at Atlantic General Hospital.

The interns spend six hours a day at the hospital, rotating through three different work experiences during the school year. Onsite classroom training focuses on employability and life skills provided by a teacher from Worcester County Public Schools.

The students will continue to perform their internships until they graduate in May.

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