Promoting inclusion and mental well-being | Promouvoir l’inclusion et le mieux-être mental
Inspirations Articles

Summit School expands its employment training programming

Alessia Iglio shows off her creation, in the fall of 2023, as part of her work with Summit Flora, Summit School’s work-oriented training program for students.
Alessia Iglio shows off her creation, in the fall of 2023, as part of her work with Summit Flora, Summit School’s work-oriented training program for students.
Thursday, May 9, 2024

by Paul Karwatsky 

In April, Summit School launched a new employment training advocacy campaign designed to help bridge the gap between education and employment for neurodivergent students. The program is described as an initiative aiming to set new standards for neurodiverse student workforce training and integration. 

The Empower Initiative is a strategic expansion of Summit’s internship programming, which includes internal opportunities at its downtown Transitional Educational Career Centre (TECC) campus and partnerships with more than 50 businesses in Montreal. It’s part of the school’s innovative approach to education and its dedication to equipping students with skills they can use beyond the classroom. 

I’ve learned essential life skills like budgeting and how to navigate public transportation,” shared 18-year-old Alessia Iglio, who has been attending Summit for more than 10 years. It’s more than just education; it’s about preparing for real life.” 

The program offers a wide range of internships, providing hands-on experience in fields such as culinary arts, video game design, administrative work, retail and even dog grooming. Through these opportunities, students like Iglio have the chance to explore various careers and find their passion. Working with Chef on Call, I’ve gained pretty valuable experience focusing on a specific trade, which has sparked my interest in becoming a cook’s assistant,” she said. 

Jesse Heffring, director of Development for Summit School, explained the program’s core objective: The Empower Initiative is not just about job training; it’s about build- ing confidence, independence and paving the way for our students to lead fulfilling lives.” 

Corporate partners have also lauded the initiative. Warren Williams, co-founder of Las Finca’s Coffee, one of the program’s partners, observed, Caroline [one of the school’s many onsite job coaches] made the integration process seamless for us. Summit’s model of offering on-site job coaching for all its internships, as part of their partnership with businesses like ours, was a game-changer. They really find the person who is the right match for the business’ needs.” 

 Paul Karwatsky has two children on the autism spectrum, is co-founder of Aura Strategies and works with Summit School.