EFE Helps Students Transition to the Workplace

A graduating senior reflects on his experience with on-the-job training through EFE.


Courtesy of Margaret Rembisz

Article writer, senior Kayin Jordan cleans a lamp fixture at his EFE jobsite, Bertucci’s.

Kayin Jordan, Guest Writer

Special Education teacher Margaret Rembisz has an important role at Lewis High School, leading a small group of seniors and juniors in Education For Employment (“EFE”), a class in which students learn important job-training skills.

Rembisz explains the goals of EFE for students who qualify for the course.

EFE is an amazing course where students receive authentic work-based learning experiences, often performing tasks of an entry level position required at that business. Students also get the benefit of learning to advocate their needs, how to communicate with peers and managers, and deal with problems as they arise, all in a supported environment,” Rembisz said.

During the school year, Rembisz sends senior Bailey Gleason out to an elementary school, senior Jimmy Luong and me to Bertucci’s, and junior Urael Debas and senior Edwin Alcantara to Companion Animal Clinic and Allegra Marketing and Print. Sometimes Rembisz’s EFE students work in the classroom, but other times they travel to job sites where they learn new tasks there.

Rembisz knows that this program would not be possible without the help of local businesses.

“The Education for Employment course could not be possible without the wonderful community partnerships we have with our local businesses. The three business, which include Bertucci’s, Allegra Marketing and Print, and Companion Animal Clinic, have supported our students for over five years. Sometimes students are even offered a summer job after their work experience through school. We are always looking for more partners to diversify the work experience for our students,” Rembisz said.

Ms. Rembisz leads EFE with the help of speech language pathologist Stacy Pete and employment and transition specialist, Katin Owen.

“I support the students’ communication skills in the class and vocational settings. So really [I emphasize] self-advocacy skills and well as social skills with peers, teachers, and supervisors on the jobsites,” Pete said.

When we first started going to our job sites, we had job coaches there to help us understand the tasks so that we knew exactly what to do. Job coaches work with EFE students to help them adjust to the workplace, but as the year progresses, students become more independent at their jobs. Today, we are handling the new tasks the manager gives us with less assistance from others.

Of course, each job placement is different, and while the thoughts of each student may differ, Ms. Rembisz really appreciates the tasks being done and the challenges we’ve been through and overcome. When I consider how the year in EFE went, I would say is that our jobs went well. The tasks we were assigned varied by student but were often just some basic cleaning and other familiar tasks.

Senior Jimmy Luong currently works at Bertucci’s but has dreams of working elsewhere as he gains experience in the working world.

“My dream job would be working at a video game store because I play lots of video games and I thought that maybe working at a video game store would be one of my things to do,” Luong said.

Luong is still happy at his current job.

“I think the job site is going pretty great right now. It’s just a lot of cleaning and folding boxes and even new tasks that I can do,” Luong said.

Senior Bailey Gleason works at Franconia Elementary School to help prepare her for her future goal.

“My dream job would be being a teacher’s assistant in elementary school because I would help teachers teach their students, and I enjoy working around with kids,” Gleason said.

Gleason has learned new things at her job site through helping out elementary school teachers. She problem solves on her own and gets help from teachers when necessary. 

Ms. Rembisz and Speech-language pathologist Stacy Pete liked the way we developed positive relationships and experienced at the different job sites.

I enjoy being in class, but being at a job site feels even better than working in class. Really, the only problem I’ve encountered at the job site has been being accidentally locked out when the back door to the kitchen locked behind me.

At my EFE job site, I clean the chairs, lamps, ledges, menus, and tables. I even sweep the floors a little. Sometimes I fold boxes for the pizzas/appetizers or sometimes I fill up the Caesar and Italian dressing bottles or the dipping oil for the bread rolls. I prepare bread rolls and cookie dough for the oven.

Sometimes, I wonder if my job duties will expand to making pizza for delivery. I have enjoyed working for Bertucci’s and hope to work for restaurants longer, working my way to hosting duties–giving customers their menus, leading them to their seats, and taking orders from them.

Based on my experiences and my classmates’ experiences, Ms. Rembisz’s students enjoy her class because things run smoothly. I, for one, don’t have any troubles in her classroom or at my worksite.

Working at the different job sites gives students a realistic idea of what to expect at a job–the good parts and the obstacles. I mostly love being in EFE class because I get to experience the working life of an adult and understand what it takes to get there.