Watching your child walk across the stage in their cap and gown, diploma in hand, is such a wonderful moment for any parent or guardian. But it can also come with a little worry, wondering “what comes next?”
At Miriam, we know our job of empowering unique learners goes beyond graduation day, and we want to prepare each student for life after high school.
“We don’t want young people graduating to their parents’ couch,” Pruitt says. “We have to give them a path.”
Pruitt starts the conversation early with students. During their freshman year, they get what Pruitt calls a reality check: looking at what their potential cost of living could be in the future and what jobs and training they’ll need to meet that income level.
Pruitt encourages students to explore all their options – from college, to trade school, to volunteer work.
Miriam’s curriculum is designed to help students look closer at these paths as well as teach them skills of adult living like balancing a checkbook and cooking.
Pruitt also works with students on soft skills they’ll need to take with them.
“I talk to the kids about self-advocacy at that point, because on the college level, parents can’t go in and say, ‘I need this for my students.’ The student has to,” Pruitt says.
By their final year at Miriam, students should be confident taking their first steps on their chosen path.
For Lucas, a Miriam senior, that step is exploring the field of computer science and coding at a program called Access Point.
And even after students leave Miriam, Pruitt says she plans to do periodic check-ins with them for their first year and a half to be a resource for them during a time of change.
“I was already planning on going into trade school,” Lucas says. “I know there are ways to get computer science jobs without having to go to college or having to get a degree, because I don’t want to go to college.”
With Access Point, Lucas will be able to start a paid apprenticeship and have help finding a job in the field.
“It’s not just about getting them across the stage,” Pruitt says. “It’s about establishing them wholly once they graduate. And we can’t do that if we don’t follow them.”