September 2016 Newsletter ... Filled with many "I Did It" moments!

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Spring 2015

TEC Community-Based Instruction Students Tackle the Work World!

For teenagers, the path from high school to adulthood can be exciting and overwhelming. For students with disabilities, however, that road is not always easily navigated. 

Fortunately the vibrant, hardworking young adults from Blossomland Learning Center gain valuable opportunities in animal-related careers thanks to TEC’s participation in Berrien RESA’s Community-Based Instruction program (CBI). 

The CBI students have moderate to severe intellectual disabilities and may also have autism, and physical and emotional disabilities.  They come to TEC to learn work skills that will transition into adult life.   

CBI Students from (left to right) Laura, Brandon, Blossomland Paraprofessional Greg Street, Mario and Rose having fun working on building job skills at TEC.

Blossomland teacher, Linda Barker, says that students learn important life skills as they prepare to come to work at TEC. “We try not to tell them what to do, we try to let them figure it out. When they come to TEC they need to know to pack a nutritious lunch, what type of clothes to wear, and what time they need to be ready. They may have never thought they could have a job with animals at a veterinary clinic, dog groomers, or one of the many local farms.” 

At TEC, students do a variety of tasks such as cleaning the horse stalls, scrubbing water buckets, and raking leaves.  Although it’s hard work, the students enjoy the experience of caring for the horses and the facility. They learn to make eye contact, work for someone else, and to take pride in their job.  “I like to take care of the horses. They love me,” says CBI participant Josie.  Josie and her fellow CBI students also enjoy the opportunity to be mentors for the Saddle STARS students when they come for their Day at the Farm.

 Blossomland Paraprofessional Greg Street says having CBI students working at TEC gives them a chance to work in a unique setting and provides real life experience. “It teaches independence and also teaches them to be discerning, to see what needs to be done, and when to do it. Working at TEC for them is more hands on and not just looking over someone’s shoulder. They learn initiative and how to take charge, to not be fearful of the work,” Street explains.

The program also teaches students the feeling of independence, self-satisfaction, and complishment.  TEC riding instructor Autumn Zick said, “During a riding lesson Mario who is also a CBI student, saw a stall needed to be cleaned.  Without being told, he got the pitch fork and got the job done.  Mario was grinning from ear to ear; you could just see how proud he was to know what to do and how to help out.”

“In our students’ lives, many times, someone is doing something for them. At TEC they do for others, in this case, it’s an animal that can accept the care unconditionally. Students can give to the horses and have an opportunity to help someone else. It teaches them how important that is and lets them experience that great feeling you get when you give, which is not always afforded them,” explains Linda.

Last year TEC provided 768 hours of Community-Based Instruction/Job Training to area Blossomland students. To learn how you can be a part of TEC’s CBI program, e-mail us at

This happens every day at TEC ... Our riders and workers experiencing their own "I DID IT!" moments.