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18+ Program alum lands job at Steele HS
Jeremiah Miller is barely older than some of the students he sees when he clocks in to work at Byron P. Steele High School. The soft-spoken 21 year old with facial hair still in the developmental stages, he spends his days on the campus as the newest custodian on campus. He is one of the many success stories to come out of the SCUC 18+ Transition Program, designed to assist students with mild to moderate disabilities into a smooth transition into adulthood.
Prior to coming to Steele HS, Miller spent two years accomplishing similar duties at a local hotel. He grew tired of working most weekends and was motivated to improve his economic situation. “My favorite part is getting paid more money,” Miller said, matter of factly.
Miller is the second graduate of the 18+ program to find a job at SCUC, and the potential for a greater employment partnership between the two entities shows promise for positions in the custodial staff, Child Nutrition, and even technology.
“It’s definitely a wonderful opportunity for our students,” said Daria Whalen, one of the teachers in the 18+ Adult Transition Program. “Once our students have a routine in their job, most acclimate to their jobs and become very productive employees.”
Traci Miller-Adams, Jeremiah’s mother, is grateful the 18+ program helps students with life skills. “I think it’s amazing,” she said. “We talked about time management skills and budgeting. I thought they were very important.” Part of that financial learning curve involves making payments on his 2013 Dodge Avenger, although Jeremiah professes to desire a car with a little more horsepower.
“He worked two years to get his driver's license and he did all the studying himself and did the online courses. That was a major accomplishment for him,” Miller-Adams said. That perseverance has benefitted the family, since Jeremiah now helps with transportation duties for his younger brother, who also has special needs.
On most days, Miller arrives in the early afternoon for his shift. He assists with cafeteria and courtyard cleanup before moving into his assigned area, near the front of the building. He admits there’s still more to learn. “There’s some things I didn’t know how to do,” he said. “The supervisor teaches me how to do it right to make sure I’m not making any mistakes.”
Miller’s supervisor allows Jeremiah to wear headphones on the job. Jeremiah listens to country and rap to relax and stay focused at work. In his spare time, Jeremiah unwinds by watching trains. “He goes down to Main Street in Cibolo,” Miller-Adams said. “A lot of people have seen him through the years and he’s always watching trains.” Jeremiah even has his own YouTube channel dedicated to capturing video of trains going by.
Miller embodies the character and skill sets the 18+ Transition Program desires from each one of its graduates. Endless possibilities exist for companies to find workers in a post-COVID era when positions go unfilled for lack of willing employees.
“Even though they have a disability, our students are committed and dedicated employees,” Whalen said. “It’s a rewarding experience for the employee with a disability to feel they are productive members of society and I also think it’s good for the company when they show diversity in their hiring.”