Ask Desiree Berry what a typical day looks like for her, and with a smile she’ll answer, “There’s no such thing as a typical day.” Her work schedule takes her from board meetings to one-on-one sessions with transition students, and from presenting at workshops to organizing college tours. Every part of her job, as wide-ranging as it seems, aims to help prepare students for life after graduation.
Connecting Students to Services
Pre-ETS stands for Pre-employment Transition Services. This is a nation-wide program that began in 2016, and is still growing. Pre-ETS coordinators, like Berry, serve as advocates for transition students on a policy level. But they also work directly with youth and young adults between the ages of 14 and 21. They focus specifically on students who will be eligible for Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) services after they finish high school or a transition program.
The Pre-ETS mission is to connect their students to services in five specific areas:
- Self-advocacy – learning to communicate and make positive decisions
- Work readiness training – developing skills important for employment
- Job exploration—identifying what kind of jobs would be a good fit
- Work-based learning—hands-on experiences in the working world
- Counseling on post-secondary and transition services—exploring education options
Since the Pre-ETS program is relatively new, the coordinators also try to grow awareness of how they can support students. As Berry explained, “I want more people to know that Pre-ETS is available for any kind of help as students transition into college or the working world.”
A key part of the transition team
Berry’s region covers Deschutes, Lake, and Wheeler counties, plus most of Eastern Oregon. She works in schools which do not have Youth Transition Program (YTP) staff on site. In Bend, that includes three high schools: Summit, REALMS, and Marshall. As Berry explained, her role is not the same as a YTP specialist, even though they share the goal of helping transition students prepare for their future.
“YTP is there every day, teaching and coaching their students. Because I have so many schools, I do more short-term work that meets a specific need,” said Berry. Examples include leading a student workshop on interviewing skills or organizing a driver’s education class. She also attends IEP meetings, as a representative for VR. Most often, Berry makes connections for students, referring them to the right resources for the help they need.
Berry works closely with teachers, VR, and transition teams throughout her region. These are the people who usually connect students with Berry when there is a need. Families can also reach out to her directly with questions or a request for help empowering students to reach their goals.
Contact Desiree Berry, Pre-ETS Coordinator for Central Oregon, at firstname.lastname@example.org