The Effort of Many Hands: Deer Creek Transition Center

People Standing

Asa Shannon is a junior at Deer Creek High School. He’s looking forward to having a place where he and other students can learn how to work and live. When asked what he’d like to tell those that were involved in the process of creating Deer Creek Transition Center (DCTC), he says, “I just want to say thank you.”

A Place like Home, at School

The Deer Creek Transition Center will be the first of its kind in the state, meeting developmental and transitional needs. Special education teacher Nick Pettit, or “Coach Nick” as his students call him, says, “A classroom versus a real-life setting where I can teach essential life skills will be a game-changer for my students.” When completed the 4000 square foot DCTC will be equipped with a bedroom, bathroom, washer and dryer, kitchen (a cross between commercial and home kitchen), a work simulation area, and recreational space.

Many regular education students will benefit from the center as well. The high school has service learners who give up an elective course to be paired with a special education student. They accompany a special education student, modeling appropriate behavior and making sure they complete assignments. Dr. James Rose, Executive Director of Student Services says, “Many regular education students don’t know how to do laundry or cook for themselves, so they’ll be learning right alongside special education kids. Our goal is to equip every student with the tools they need to eventually live on their own. They’ll be taught how to take care of themselves and their homes, but finding hobbies and ways to fill leisure time is also key to quality of life.”

A Legacy for Future Students 

Heather Squires is involved in the Deer Creek Parents Support Group, a physical therapist and mother of Brighton, a special education student who just graduated from Deer Creek. Though her daughter has graduated, she is committed to seeing this project through, “My younger daughter is still at Deer Creek and is a service learner.” There are many involved in the project who know firsthand how vital the center will be to future students and their families. The center is over ten years in the making and took many hands for it to come to fruition. Ranet Tippens, the former superintendent, leaves a legacy of ensuring students were offered the resources they needed to succeed after high school.

Dr. Rose estimates over ten thousand people were involved in funding the project. The student-led fundraising week, Wonderful Week of Fundraising, has historically donated 10% of funds to DCTC. The center itself was funded by a bond, but the inside and supplies needed for programming will come from the efforts of the Parents Support Group. The Parents Support Group is a nonprofit that raises funds for Special Olympics, offers support to special education parents, and continues to fundraise for the DCTC. Nick says, “We‘ll need things like bedding, furniture, board games, pots, and pans; things to make it feel like a real home.” They also hope to acquire a food truck and teach the students to run it for football games and other special events.

For more information about the DCTC find them on Facebook or deercreekschools.org.

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