It has been a year like no other at Cotting, many of our programs have quickly adjusted to the reality of COVID-19, still providing vital services to students and remaining connected with our community partners. One example is Project Bridges, a community-based volunteer work experience program inside Cotting School. Being community focused, the Project Bridges program has had to adapt to providing valuable experiences without physically being able to go into the community. Students in the program strive to build and sustain connections with community leaders- developing their vocational and transitional skills. We are proud and thankful for our relationships with over 40 community partners and employers in the community who have and continue to provide valuable opportunities for Cotting students to explore various work fields. Even though Project Bridges has shifted completely virtual for the time being, numerous local businesses have partnered with Cotting to establish virtual connections with some Capstone and Upper School classrooms.
Several partners have been spending time with our students over weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly Zoom calls, providing students with the opportunity to job shadow, engage in remote projects, and interact with our community virtually. We are quite appreciative of the lasting connections being formed between students and their co-workers; at the same time, businesses in the community are becoming educated about accommodations for students with disabilities.
For many students, learning from community leaders is the highlight of their weeks; in a time of uncertainty and change, we are thankful to our community partners for keeping such a strong connection with Cotting! One partner, Takeda Pharmaceutical, recently celebrated Takeda Cares week, a week of Takeda employees giving back through service. In the past, Takeda employees have come to Cotting School, offering up their time for our community. With Takeda volunteers unable to physically come to campus this year, plans for how we could continue to work together were uncertain. We are thankful to Takeda for creating a series of educational videos for the students in Project Bridges. Topics included Takeda employees describing what helps them in their workplace, their career paths, and how they continue to learn new skills at work, offering up valuable career and life advice to Cotting students! As we continue to adapt every single day at Cotting to provide the best experience possible for our students, we are extremely grateful for the many community partners who help make student’s experiences better.
Listed below are some of the community partners who are currently engaging in remote connections with our work internship program!
Maurice Wilkey, Perkins Radio Team, Perkins School for the Blind, Watertown
Kate DeAngelis, Recreation Therapist, Lexington Community Center
Carey Conkey-Finn and Aimee Lambert, Young Adult Librarians, Watertown Public Library
Cindy DiRusso, Children’s Librarian, Cambridge Public Library, O’Neill Branch
Liz Festa, Executive Director, and staff, Hayden Recreation Center, Lexington
Hayley Cooke, Assistant Director of Visitor Experiences, Discovery Museum, Acton
Erin Pitkin, Accessibility Coordinator, Drumlin Farm, Lincoln
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HOPEhouse, a boarding program on the campus of Cotting School, offers an educational focus to support young adults in their experience living in a group, working together to learn independent living skills, and collaborating with their peers in a home-like supportive environment.