The LINCS Transition Program in the Tumwater School District teaches special education students ages 18-21 how to move to an independent life outside of a school setting. And now the program itself will be moving into a new district building.
“A couple of years’ worth of planning has gone into creating a space for this program’s unique needs,” says Executive Director of Special Services Chris Burgmeier. “We are very excited to be able to do this.”
LINCS Transition Program Supports Tumwater’s Special Education Students’ Adjustment to Independent Living
LINCS stands for “Learning Independence by Networking, Community, and School.” LINCS teaches special education students a wide variety of life skills like laundry, cooking, riding public transportation, how to find employment, and other independent living and working activities. LINCS has been part of the district’s special education offerings for many years.
“Typically our students have both classroom and vocational training,” explains Burgmeier. She says students begin their day learning pre-vocational and vocational skills, like filling out job applications. Over the course of the day they work on other life competencies, such as meal preparation. They also go to their jobs in the local community at the Thurston County Food Bank, the Tumwater Parks & Recreation Department, the Tumwater Timberland Library, Morningside and other employers and partners. Students are then transported back to the school before going home.
“In the coming year, we will be getting more businesses and associations participating, like retail sites, and bowling alleys,” says Burgmeier.
LINCS Transition Program’s New Building is Located Next to Tumwater District Office
The new LINCS modular building is currently being moved onto its site. The building will be located adjacent to the district office at 621 Linwood Avenue SW, Tumwater. The building will be about 1,900 square feet. It houses a classroom, kitchen, office and restrooms. This means the new building will be able to accommodate both classroom setting instruction and life skills lessons, all in one convenient location. It’s anticipated the building will open to start the 2023-24 school year.
Burgmeier says the building will be somewhat of a unique setting as compared to other special education transition programs, which may use a combination of classrooms in a school building and an off-site separate apartment with kitchen and laundry.
“The reality is 18- to 21-year-old students are no longer high school students. They are young adults and deserve to have their own space,” Burgmeier says of the dedicated building for LINCS students. “It’s no longer just a classroom setting but a life skills setting.”
LINCS Recognizes School-to-Independent Living Transitions Deliver Success for Students and Community
The impetus for the LINCS program came about with a recognition that both classroom and independent living skills can better support students as they prepare to transition out of a high school setting.
The federal special education law Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) covers students until age 21. LINCS students in the Tumwater School District have met high school graduation requirements, but have not yet graduated. Until age 21, they can participate in LINCS during the nine-month school year.
District students start looking at LINCS at about age 15, as part of their yearly Individualized Education Program (IEP). An IEP describes the special education instruction, supports and services a student needs to thrive. With the LINCS Transition Program, a student can also plan for the steps they can take to lead an independent life and have supportive employment after leaving a high school setting. If a qualified new student is moving into the district and has not yet earned a diploma from any other school, the district can also help them develop an IEP that includes LINCS.
LINCS encourages competitive/supportive employment, adult leisure activities, and self-management skills in the community. LINCS’ partners provide jobs which help participants make decisions about their future employment. Burgmeier says LINCS receives great feedback from partner employers and organizations. “The partners are always very appreciative of our students’ contributions,” she says. “We also want feedback on our students because we want to support them, too. And typically the families are also very appreciative of the independence skills and vocational skills the students gain in connection with the support of paid employment.”
Contact the Tumwater School District to Learn More About LINCS
The annual number of students in the program averages about 10. This year’s new LINCS instructor is Kelli Goode. For more information on the LINCS Transition Program in the Tumwater School District and the new LINCS building, contact Burgmeier in the Special Services Department, 360.709.7040 or firstname.lastname@example.org.