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High School Transition That Works


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About the Author

Maryellen Daston has a background in biomedical research and technical writing. As a researcher, she specialized in developmental neuroscience. However, when she started working for Project SEARCH, her focus shifted from cells in a dish to the development of the whole person.

When she joined the Project SEARCH team, Maryellen expected to be the in-house grant writer. But her role has evolved beyond that, and she has since become the written voice of the Project SEARCH program. As such, she is responsible for editing and writing content for the Project SEARCH website, articles for professional journals, and other communications--including this book. She also identifies state and federal funding opportunities and prepares grant applications. Maryellen lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband, George, two charming sons, Char and Jack, and their very lovable dog, Winnie. In her spare time, Maryellen enjoys yoga and reading. She is looking forward to someday having the time to make jewelry and knit. Erin Riehle is a recognized authority and national leader in promoting employment opportunities for people with disabilities and other barriers to employment. She is a founder and Senior Director of Project SEARCH, an employment and transition program that has received national recognition for innovative practices. When she started Project SEARCH, Erin was a nurse manager at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center with no particular expertise in disability issues beyond the strictly medical. Her motivation was to offer people with disabilities-who made up a significant portion of the hospital's patient volume-the same opportunities for training and employment that were available to everyone else. She brought a business perspective to the field of disability education, as well as an ability to bring organizations together for a shared purpose. Now, Erin is regularly invited to present at national and regional conferences, and has co-authored numerous publications and book chapters. She has served on many national committees and is a past board member for the Association for Persons in Supported Employment (APSE), the Ohio Governor's Council on People with Disabilities, and the U.S. Business Leadership Network. Project SEARCH received the U.S. Department of Labor's 2004 New Freedom Initiative Award, was the Inaugural recipient of Dartmouth-Hitchcock's 2010 James W. Varnum National Quality Award, and received a 2011 Inclusion Champion Award from Mitsubishi Electric America. Erin lives in Terrace Park, Ohio with her partner, Judy, and their inimitable dog, Molly. When Erin grows up, she wants to be a master gardener. Susie Rutkowski is the Co-Director and Educational Specialist for Project SEARCH. She is a nationally recognized transition expert with specific experience in program development in career technical education and job development for young adults with disabilities. She served as the Manager for Disability Education at Great Oaks Career Campuses for over twelve years. During that tenure she, with Erin Riehle, co-founded Project SEARCH. Susie has been instrumental in designing the Project SEARCH Training Institute modules and leading replication efforts for new Project SEARCH sites. She speaks and writes on transition-related topics. Susie's degree in Special Education was received from Bowling Green State University. Her Masters in Educational Administration was received from the University of Dayton and she did post-graduate work at Wright State University and Xavier University. In addition to her other positions, she taught young students with multi-handicaps for eight years and worked for 10 years as a Job Placement Coordinator at Great Oaks for students and graduates with disabilities. Susie lives in Loveland, Ohio with her husband, Joe, and is the proud mother of five children: Sharon, Noah, Kurt, Kevin, and Lucas. Most importantly, she is the proudest Mimi ever to Gallagher, Sofie, and Jack. In her spare time, Susie dotes on her grandchildren, volunteers at her church, and creates beautiful handmade greeting cards. Dr. Wehman is Professor of Physical Medicine with joint appointments in the Departments of Rehabilitation Counseling and also Special Education and Disability Policy at Virginia Commonwealth University. He serves as Chairman of the Division of Rehabilitation Research in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Dr. Wehman has his Ph.D. in Behavioral Disabilities from University of Wisconsin-Madison. As one of the original founders of supported employment, he has worked closely with business and industry since 1980 and has published over 200 articles and authored or edited more than 40 books primarily in transition, severe disabilities, autism, traumatic brain injury and employment for persons with disabilities. He has been the Principal Investigator on 41 million dollars in grants during his career. As the father of two young adults with disabilities, he brings a strong parental as well as business perspective to his work. He is highly active in speaking to professionals, parents, advocates and businesses on transition and employment for people with autism, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury and other developmental disabilities. On a daily basis he works with individuals with disabilities, communicates regularly with professionals in the world of business related to disability and diversity, and is active in teaching and mentoring medical students, residents, and doctoral students in rehabilitation medicine, special education, rehabilitation and psychology. A major focus of Dr. Wehman's work is on expanding the partnerships with businesses of all sizes so that more persons with disabilities can gain entrance into the workplace and retain employment successfully. He is a recipient of the Kennedy Foundation Award in Mental Retardation in 1990 and President's Committee on Employment for Persons with Disabilities in 1992. Dr. Wehman was recognized as one of the 50 most influential special educators of the millennium by the Remedial and Special Education journal in December, 2000. He is also Editor-in-Chief of The Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation.


"Project SEARCH brings all the best practices together that we know about Transition to Work in one model: Interagency collaboration between schools, adult providers, and business; an immersion in a business for work-based learning; systematic instruction and data collection; family involvement; and blended funding. Most importantly, meaningful employment outcomes." --Teresa Grossi, Ph.D.

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