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LHS’ Employment Class bridges soft skills with community outreach

Pictured from left to right, (back row):  Paula Terpstra, District wide SPED Counselor, Asher Mueller, Ethan Eitreim, McKenna Visscher, Cassidy Taylor, Meals on Wheels representative, Bailey Carlson, HS Special Education Teacher; (front row): Ethan Dendy, Dezeanna Eichhorn, and Landry Rasmussen.

Students at Lennox High School are able to participate in an Employment I Class which has been a staple for over a decade, empowering students in their Freshman, Sophomore, and Junior years. The class focuses on cultivating essential soft skills, including organization, communication, teamwork, problem-solving, time management, self-regulation, and social-emotional development.

This past school year marked a new chapter for the Employment Class as Paula Terpstra, District wide Special Education Counselor, began co-teaching.

“I began co-teaching the class to focus on social emotional development, self awareness and self regulation skills,” said Terpstra. “We implemented the Positive Action Curriculum. The curriculum is a research based curriculum that’s goal for student and adults to gain not only knowledge, attitudes, norms and skills that improve values, self concept, peer interactions and communication. Our goal is to improve behaviors (both negative and positive), emotional and mental well being and school performance. These students are in their first year and we have been focusing on our choices and how they are affected by our thoughts, actions and feelings.”

As part of the class, the students have been working in collaboration with the Meals on Wheels program. 

“One of the goals of the class is to get the students engaged in community involvement. In the summer I volunteer to deliver meals. I contacted Jodi Mechels to see if this would be a possibility for our students after getting approval from our administration,” said Terpstra. “Based on our block schedule we were able to make Thursday’s work to deliver meals during our class time.”

The students participating in Meals on Wheels have found the experience to be not only fulfilling but transformative.

Ethan Dendy highlighted how the opportunity allowed him to connect with others.

“The first week of delivery I felt nervous but by our last delivery my feelings changed because I knew everyone that we delivered too and I built more confidence,” said Dendy. 

Cassidy Taylor echoed this sentiment.

“I enjoyed delivering meals each week because I got to meet new people  in our community. The first week we delivered meals I felt okay but I am shy, so it was hard. When we delivered meals the last week, I felt amazing because I saw the same people,” said Taylor. “I knew I was helping the elders, and they needed it”.

Asher Mueller shared his perspective, stating, “I liked delivering meals each week because it gave me a chance get to know new people and I felt responsible to help others. The first week we delivered meals I felt nervous because I had never done something like this before. My feeling changed by the last week  e delivered meals because I knew what we were doing, and I was used to everyone. I learned how to be a better listener and more confident in working with the community.”

Dezeanna Eichhorn expressed her happiness in helping others through the Meals on Wheels initiative, “ I like delivering meals on wheels each week because it makes me feel happy to be able to help others. I learned how to be more willing to talk with the  eople I delivered the meals to because we didn’t it over and over,” she said. 

The Employment Class’s collaboration with Meals on Wheels not only instills vital life skills but also nurtures a sense of community, making a positive impact on both students and those they serve. 


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