Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) community-based transition students are learning new skills and preparing for the workforce with internships in local businesses. Tiffany Renfro, a transition coach, is dedicated to helping both students and employers understand why hiring students with disabilities is so important.
Name, MNPS Role
My name is Tiffany Renfro, Paraprofessional @ CBTP: Disaster Relief Efforts
Describe the work that you do with students.
We work with our students on vocational, behavioral, and social skills within the community.
Why are you passionate about this work?
I have always felt a sense of protection over people who are different. I feel like the population of students that we work with are amazing people that teach us a lot.
What do you see as the biggest obstacle in terms of students finding internships / jobs?
One of the biggest obstacles is getting employers and families to understand how capable the students can be. Many of our parents are afraid to let their child go out into the community/workplace because they are afraid that they will be taken advantage of. The employers have either not had experience with the population of people with disabilities, or they have had past negative experiences that make them hesitant to hire someone with a disability.
What common misperceptions of people with disabilities do you see from employers? What would you do / say to knock down these misperceptions?
Many of the misperceptions are the kind of work that the students are capable of. We make sure to let our employers know that we do not want to be limited in what we do; we love a challenge, and we will try anything that is asked. Although every student may not be right for each task, we learn the different skills of each student and then we place them in the area that is best suited for them. Employers simply have to give students the opportunity, and provide the training, to complete most any job.
Why is providing internship opportunities important for students with disabilities?
Internship opportunities allow the employers to learn how valuable the students can be in their place of employment.
Why is providing job & internship opportunities to people with disabilities good for employers?
Most of our students will do basically any job in a workplace without complaint. They are thankful for the work, and more often than not, they rarely miss work.