Terri Pruitt is a guidance counselor, job advocate, individualized learning plan manager, test moderator and more…but in all her roles, she is a true champion for Miriam students and their futures.
Terri joined the Miriam team in August as Associate Head for Transition Services at Miriam Academy. She has made it her mission to ensure all students graduating from Miriam have the foundation to be successful, as well as have viable employment opportunities post-high school.
“We have an obligation to really help mold these young people for their tomorrow,” she says. “Neither Dr. A (Andrea White, Head of Miriam Academy) nor I take that lightly.”
In fact, nothing less than success is an option for Terri. “I gave the senior parents my word that in September 2022, their child will not be sitting on their couch. It’s a tall order, but I’m pretty sure we can deliver.”
She started the fall semester by meeting with each senior and his or her parent/guardian. They talked about the student’s interests, and the student’s and parent’s hopes and expectations. After those conversations, Terri developed ideas for each senior by exploring leads, doing lots of research and contacting her connections within the community. Then, she met with each senior again.
Of course, students’ plans may change. In fact, it’s likely that they will. Terri just wants to give them options and opportunities as a starting point. “What I emphasize is that we need to get them in a direction that they can shift – not start over.”
One senior’s interest is working with computers, and Terri put him and his mother in contact with Access Point, a program she heard about on Channel 9. The student plans to begin the program next semester and continue post-graduation. The program will lead to a paid internship and placement into a position with a competitive salary.
Terri has also met with the juniors and sophomores to get an idea of their interests. She plans to meet with the freshmen early next semester, and she intends to start after-school small group sessions with sophomores and freshmen, using a free, statewide program. Missouri Connections is a career development and planning program funded by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Just as with everything at Miriam, the transition program is individualized for each student. Terri envisions that the program will grow each year, with a specific focus for each grade: freshmen – exploration, getting to know themselves; sophomores – career exploration; juniors – narrowing their focus, job shadowing, volunteering, college visits; and seniors – work programs, dual credit, volunteering.
Terri has a three-page document describing programs like Access Point and Missouri Connections, and through her connections and research, she is continually adding to it.
She has also developed a partnership with Schnucks for part-time employment for some of our students who desire that type of work experience. One Miriam student is currently working at Schnucks, and another will likely begin working there next semester. Terri helps them through the entire process of filling out an application, getting in touch with her contact at the company, and preparing for employment.
Regardless of the path students choose, Terri is in it for the long haul. She plans to support students throughout the process, even after they graduate from Miriam and go to college, find employment or enroll in a work program.
She is passionate about her role in helping students through this difficult planning – and implementation – process. And Terri feels strongly about helping the parents, as well. “I feel like it’s my role to take some of the burden off of them.”
We can’t wait to see all the places our students will go!