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Career Success Found Through Project SEARCH

May 27th, 2021

Bradley Wilson.

Project SEARCH: Howard County participant Bradley Wilson has found lasting success as a lunch and recess monitor at Deep Run Elementary School, despite the nontraditional academic year. The position is a perfect match for Wilson’s passion for working with children. He explained, “I like to help the kids, keep them safe. I like that it’s about playtime and fun.”

Project SEARCH is a one-year transition program for young adults with disabilities at HCPSS, providing extensive training and career exploration, innovative adaptations and job coaching.

Bradley Wilson speaking to a male student.

“Bradley is using skills that he’s developed across different child care work experiences and is applying them to his first paid job. He is the perfect example of what our goal is for each Project SEARCH intern,” said Natalie Dohner, Project SEARCH manager from The Arc of Howard County. In the classroom, Wilson has developed important practical skills, such as time management, and knowing when it’s appropriate to be serious or silly at the workplace.

Wilson has been fully welcomed by the staff and students at Deep Run since he started there in March. On a day-to-day basis, he is in charge of getting recess equipment ready, ensuring children follow COVID-19 safety protocols while playing and eating, helping students with their lunch and more. As he manages his responsibilities, he has formed strong bonds with the students, which is evident by the cards he received during Teacher Appreciation Week.

“Bradley loves working with the kids at Deep Run. It’s his life. The kids really enjoy his sense of humor. He’s very proud of his job and that shines through with the children,” said Deep Run Assistant Principal Sophia Quirk, who hired him. “At our school, we believe ‘We are one at Deep Run’ because we celebrate that we’re a diverse population of learners and staff. Bradley feeling he’s a part of our community and an important part of our staff has helped him be successful.”

A young female student holds Bradley Wilson's arm.

Prior to Deep Run, Wilson completed additional HCPSS programs preparing him for the world of work and enabling him to develop skills for the education setting. Among other opportunities, he participated in a Work Study at Laurel Woods Elementary School and a Community Connection experience at Northfield Elementary School. While in Community Connection, Wilson also earned a child care aide certification from the Howard County Childcare Resource Center.

Bradley Wilson in the cafeteria with a student in a wheelchair.

Wilson’s successful work placement represents how Project SEARCH staff had to get creative in providing different types of opportunities during the pandemic. All 12 participants have benefited from remote work projects this year, such as putting together real estate and local business mailers, and assembling monthly subscription boxes. The eight in-person participants are currently taking part in internship placements, such as at the Howard County Food Bank and Community Ecology Institute at Freetown Farm.

In its seventh year in Howard County, Project SEARCH has an overall success rate of getting 70% of its participants employed at the completion of the program. Wilson is already well on his way in his chosen career as both he and Deep Run staff are committed to him returning as a lunch and recess monitor next year. He clearly states, “I’d like to stay here forever.”

Project SEARCH is a collaborative effort of HCPSS, Howard County Government, The Arc of Howard County, Howard County Autism Society, and MSDE’s Division of Rehabilitation Services.