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February 13, 2019
District Opens Transition Learning Center at Local Business
MDI’s Cohasset facility to house new program for students with special needs

Students with special needs in the Independent School District (ISD) 318 will have a host of new opportunities when the new Quest Transition Program opens its doors on February 25 at MDI. Quest, which stands for Quality Universal Education and Skills Training, is a new program designed for students with special needs ages 18 to 21 to learn life skills through immersive educational experiences. 

“We’ve very excited to be able to meet our students’ needs in a new way,” said 318 Special Services Director Brent Brunetta. “Our previous transition program was housed at the high school, which wasn’t ideal as students saw their peers move on to post-secondary or community employment opportunities.” 

Quest will provide instruction and hands-on learning around employment, budgeting, social skills, connecting with community agencies and more. The program will be housed in Cohasset, Minnesota at MDI, which is a non-profit local manufacturing and product assembly organization where nearly half its employees are people with disabilities.

“This kind of training is desperately needed, which is reflected by the high unemployment rate for people with disabilities,” said Peter McDermott, president and CEO of MDI. “At MDI, we know that each person has ability and brings unique value to the workplace, and we are incredibly excited to be partnering with the district to provide space for this important program.”

Quest will include one full-time instructor, with additional support from the district’s nursing services, school psychology services, school social worker and a work experience coordinator. The district will also partner with MDI and other outside agencies to provide employment experiences for students.  

“This new program will provide services for our young adults as they progress from an educational setting toward living and working as independently as possible in our community,” said Brunetta. “This program will ensure that our students with special needs have the opportunity to fully participate in our community and engage in meaningful employment.”

Grand Rapids area businesses are invited to contact ISD 318 Special Services at 218-327-5705 for a tour of the new learning center and to learn how to get involved.