May 10, 2018
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Multnomah Transition Specialist Consortium Wins OAESD New Ideas in Education Award

From: Scott Ryan & Laura Conroy

Planning committee. Left to right: Loretta Stites (Reynolds Transition Specialist), Cathy Noles (Corbett YTP Specialist), Kathi Morris (Reynolds YTP Specialist) and myself Jodi Johnson (Pre-ETS Support Specialist).

The Oregon Association of Education Service Districts has recognized the Multnomah Transition Specialist Consortium (Consortium) with its News Ideas in Education Award. The Consortium was formed by MESD Transition Network Facilitators Jodi Johnson and Lizzie Juaniza who saw an opportunity for transition specialists and educational assistants, working in schools across the region, to exchange best practices, resources and experience with each other. The Consortium is an action-based group that reaches out to community members and businesses to embrace the engagement of students with disabilities, and help job seekers, including youth and students, access employment, education, training, and support services to succeed in the labor market and to match employers with the skilled workers they need to compete in the global economy.

Students worked as greeters, servers and caterers of the event and one who sat on the panel.


One innovation of the Consortium is the unique approach of reaching out to community businesses with an employer engagement event held in February 2018. The employer engagement event, Building Bridges to Tomorrow’s Workforce, promoted collaboration with local businesses and schools to support the belief that “anyone can work”.  A panel of businesses and students shared their successful work relationships and employment experiences in the community. Other features were a breakfast catered by the student culinary program, student greeters and servers, and a presentation from Oregon Department of Education and the Office of Developmental Disability Services.  One highlight of the event was the testimony of a business member in the audience who expressed their newfound understanding of how individuals with disabilities are valuable members of the workforce and how he could see himself supporting work experience opportunities in the future.

This consortium model supports classified members of the education system to empower and enrich their ability to share knowledge and ideas amongst each other. Educational Service Districts across the state could benefit from adopting a similar model of support for employees serving students with disabilities cross-pollinate resources and engage in collaborative brainstorming and problem-solving, and host events to meet the needs of students and employers in each region.
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