Unique opportunities arise through Fairmont Industries program

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Photo: Kayla Martens

Fairmont Industries students work hard during class.

Fairmont Industries started in 1986 as a junior achievement company. It focused on employability skills for students. It later changed into a vocational work study, which is what it remains today. 

It is a community based program set up for kids that have special needs. “It’s set up so that the kids learn at a level that they can use in later life,” said Kathleen Duggan, a veteran teacher of 11 years to the program.

Fairmont Industries teaches all school subjects, and how to use them out in the community. “They use the skills in the community because that’s the way they learn.” said Duggan. Having experience can help the students learn how to act around people, and how to be on their own.

The program takes the juniors and seniors to the Kettering Medical Center and to Barnes. They are taught and prepared for the next stage of their life. “I restock drinks, snacks, chips, and all that stuff at the hospital,” said Rebecca Evans, a Fairmont Industries student.

“The goal of Fairmont Industries is for the students to learn so that they can function in the real world.” said Duggan. The program sets them up so they are qualified to do some jobs, the learn technique and skills for work.

They are also taught how to live on their own, “[we] teach them how to go to the bank and how to go to the grocery store.” said Duggan.

Student’s eligibility for Fairmont Industries is decided on many characteristics.

For students to get into the program, the teachers from the middle schools send over reports of their students. Administration at Fairmont decides who qualifies to be in Fairmont Industries.

“Whether they can not function in a resource room setting” said Ashley Schibler, a teacher for Fairmont Industries. Students can be put into resource rooms to learn life skills, if they are unable to function, they are moved to Fairmont Industries.

The students have a structured schedule that they follow everyday. “It’s all independent but there’s not going to be surprises thrown” said Schibler.

In the programs, students can do anything a normal student would. Students go to classes everyday, and do the same activities each day. “I do games on the computer almost every day” said Evans.

Fairmont Industries can take part in regular school activities, like prom and go to football games. But they also participate in activities outside of school. “They can participate in any of the Special Olympics bowling track and other [activities]” said Duggan.

When students graduate from Fairmont Industries they go to a transition program at Barnes. “It’s a continuation of what we do here, but more independent,” said Schibler.

Currently programs around the country are being cut, so it is harder to find programs for kids. “It’s a work in progress.” said Schibler, “We do encourage the parents to contact an organization that could help their kids.” Programs are limited but teachers are really focusing on the transition after high school.

Fairmont Industries is a helpful program that impacts kids all over Kettering. “We want to do as much as we can to help them.” said Schibler.