ETR’s Facilitate Special Needs Student Success After High School

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, IDEA (2004) ensures that students with disabilities are provided intervention, special education and other related services guaranteeing them the same level of educational opportunity as their typically developing peers. Early intervention for infants and toddlers is covered under Part C of IDEA and individuals ages 3-21 are entitled to special education and related services under IDEA Part B. These support services are essential for academic success from pre-school through high school graduation, but what about after high school? How do students prepare for life outside the classroom? That’s where Employment and Transition Representatives (ETRs) like Ann Speidel come in to the picture.

In her role as an Employment and Transition Representative at Centreville High School in Centreville, VA, Speidel’s job is to facilitate the students’ transition to post-graduation life by providing resources and support to the student, their family, caregivers, and the community.

Brady Boose is one of the many Centerville High School students  who have benefited from the support and training provided by Speidel and the faculty at CHS. Here, Boose works at Giant Food Stores in Centreville, VA as he pursues his goal of graduating high school in 2018. (June, 2017 -Photo Credit: Tracey Dowdy)

Speidel spent several years working in a small residential school with high school-aged girls with both learning and emotional disabilities. From there, she transitioned into the Fairfax County school system and in her role as ETR at Centreville High, she has been able to use her 28 years of experience with the county to leverage employment and development opportunities for her students.

“My goal with all the students here is to help them to prepare for life after graduation. What that looks like is very different (for each student) because they have different strengths, they have different abilities, they have different interests. So the goal is really to meet an individual where they are and find out where they’d like to go and help them to get there – what we call transition.”

Clockwise, left to right: Boose is an excellent bowler, competing in the Special Olympics; on the job at Panera Bread; and relaxing with family and friends, June 2017 (Photo credit: Brenda Boose)


Speidel and others on Centreville’s special education faculty and staff work with students on everything from preparing a resume and what to expect in an interview to recognizing their strengths in order to find a career path that will be both satisfying and empowering. By equipping and supporting these individuals, they enable these students to live beyond their diagnosis and have futures as rich as their typically developing peers.

For more information how an ETR can help your high school student and what resources are available, follow this link for Fairfax County residents and this link for what resources, rights and services you or your child are entitled to under IDEA.

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