House of Blooms Gives Students with Special-Needs Job Training

The holidays are here, and the students enrolled in the transition program at Lincoln-Way East High School in Frankfort, Illinois are working hard. They started growing poinsettias from rooted cuttings back in August. The students were involved in all aspects of cultivating and raising the plants, along with other activities integral to running a small business.

House of Blooms is a greenhouse that is run by the students in the Special Services Transition Program at Lincoln-Way East. It was started four years ago as a way to raise money for the program while simultaneously teaching students job skills and the various tasks that go into running a successful business. The program has grown from 30 students in its first year to 50 who are currently participating. Students take part in everything, from caring for the plants to accounting, marketing, and customer service.

“The purpose is to develop the students’ skills within the transition program,” says Joshua Kreske, transitional coordinator at Lincoln-Way East High School.

“Students are not only gaining knowledge about how to grow plants but how to work as a member of a team, how to follow multi-step directions, and how to problem-solve. They’re also learning and developing their skills in the areas of bookkeeping, computer data entry, inventory, proper job/work behaviors, sales, marketing, and independence.”

Fifty students were involved in the project this year, which involved planting and caring for 450 poinsettias in the school’s greenhouse. The sale starts December 2. The 6-inch poinsettia plants come in red, white, and pink, and cost $7.00 each, and include a decorative foil cover, a handmade holiday planter decoration and bow. All proceeds will go back into the program to purchase supplies for the Spring Flowers Plant Sale.

Carolyn Brescia, coordinator of special services at Lincoln-Way Eats says,

“The combination of the hands-on, real-life experience along with the development of the greenhouse curriculum serves as a meaningful educational opportunity. It is my hope that House of Blooms will allow our students to grow academically, further develop and enhance their social confidence, as well as increase their job opportunities in the future.”

Kreske says,

“Our students are very hard-working, I want them to feel confident in themselves so that when given a task, they can complete it. Also, I want the students to feel a sense of accomplishment.”

The Spring Flowers Plant Sale will include Easter Lilies, geraniums, petunias, begonias, coleus, and impatiens. Students will begin cultivating plants for the spring sale in December, and they will be available in May. Easter Lilies cost between three and five dollars. Geraniums are $3 per six-pack or $18 per flat. Petunias, begonias, coleus and impatiens sell for $2 per six-pack or $12 per flat.

All proceeds are reinvested in the business and used to further develop transitional opportunities and experiences for special-needs students at Lincoln-Way East High School.

For more information, or to order contact the Special Services Department at 815-464-2141, or email houseofblooms@lw210.org.

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About Laurel Joss

Laurel Joss is a freelance writer with a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. She worked as an RDI® Program Certified Consultant and has published articles in Autism Spectrum Quarterly and on her blog www.remediatingautism.blogspot.com. She is a mother to two children, one of whom is on the autism spectrum. You can also follow her on https://twitter.com/speaking_autism and https://www.facebook.com/speaking.autism.ca