Independence program finds new home at TTU

A student’s experience of being on a college campus is all about independence, and that’s especially true for a group of six Putnam County students who are based out of a Tech Village apartment.

The Independence program provides additional life skills and job training to qualified post-high school students ages 18 to 22, and those students and their teachers recently hosted a reception for the campus and community education leaders who helped them establish a home base among their peers.

“We’re glad to welcome this program to campus,” said TTU President Bob Bell. “It was a partnership opportunity we couldn’t pass up. Not only do the Independence students benefit directly by being among their peers, but it’s a wonderful outreach opportunity for the College of Education, whose special education majors will use this as a practicum setting.”

The public school system requires that training for these additional life and job skills be made available to qualified students through their 22nd birthdays, but Putnam County students who chose that additional training had to return to the halls of their former high school until the beginning of this academic year.

While that isn’t an uncommon scenario for many county school systems, it doesn’t encourage participation from the maximum number of qualified students the program is meant to help, officials say.

The change of location, however, has already had an impact on the six Independence students currently participating in the program, said Coordinator Amy Locke.

“The difference has just been amazing since we’ve moved to Tech Village,” she said. “I’ve already noticed an incredible boost in the self-esteem of these students because they are on campus among their same-aged peers. We feel very blessed to be here.”

Possibly the first such program in the state to actually be housed on a college campus, Independence is an excellent example for similar programs in other counties, officials say.

“This was an idea that just started out in my mind, and to see it come to fruition is just incredible,” said Kathleen Airhart, Putnam County director of schools. “It’s exceeded my expectations.”

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