Disability Mentoring Day Events
Two women who work at Publix, in uniform, one in a regular vest and the other in an apron. They have an arm around each other next to a deli inside Publix.
Two women who work at Publix, in uniform, one in a regular vest and the other in an apron. They have an arm around each other next to a deli inside Publix.

This year we decided to try something new for Disability Mentoring Day. Our coordinators completed a variety of tours throughout the month of Oct. Students were able to shadow different employers to get an idea of where they might like to work in the future.

“We decided to take a more intimate approach on the event this year,” said Deidra Simon, High School/High Tech Program Coordinator. “We really wanted to give students individual attention, and creating smaller events allowed us to do that.”

Three different groups of students from First Coast High School in Duval County, Mandarin High School in Duval County, and Clay County’s Transition Academy were able to visit different and local  Publix stores. A cake decorator was present at one of the tours and taught students how to decorate cakes. The students also learned about job opportunities at Publix, how to begin working there, and what it’s like being a Publix Employee.

Beyond Publix, the students toured SafariLand in Jacksonville. Safariland is a U.S. based designer and manufacturer of equipment for sporting, military, law enforcement, investigation, and public safety personnel equipment. The group was able to tour the facility, talk with management, and learn about different job opportunities.

Shane Weddle, Safariland Plant Manager said that having the students tour Safariland was a great opportunity. “The kids had so much energy, and were so curious about the work we do, it was humbling really.”

Our High School High Tech program is a transition program for students with disabilities who are in the 9th through 12th grade on a standard or special track diploma.  This program  allows students to explore high tech careers as well as their own career interest to prepare them for post-secondary education or a career.

“I’m so grateful to be working with my students,” said Brittany O’Gradee, High School High Tech Program Coordinator. “They are the reason I love my job so much. I feel like I’m constantly learning something from them.”

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