Looking Ahead

Hopeful and Excited for the New Year!

2020 is unlike any year, but  even with unforeseeable circumstances, we made great gains during unforeseeable circumstances through innovation and flexibility. We’ve been fortunate to have a team of some of the most brilliant, capable and dedicated educators anywhere working as a team; our staff and students made what felt impossible become possible by pushing forward despite obstacles. 

Our students have learned and grown, showing great resilience throughout this unpredictable time. They’ve risen to every challenge and adjustment. Cooke’s commitment to our students and their families is unwavering, and we are grateful for supporters like you, who make it possible for us to be their constant!

Transitions Students Enjoy a Bit of Holiday Cheer at HSBC Virtual Vocational Workshop

Through a generous grant from HSBC, Cooke Transitions students will participate in a series of vocational workshops designed to connect them with HSBC employees. For the first event, held on December 2, HSBC employees hosted Cooke, and a group of young adults from AHRCNYC, for a presentation on workplace skills and how to get a first job. Melissa Heise (Head of Tax, HSBC North America Holdings) and Whitnee Pemberton (Director, Community Outreach & Information Services, AccessMatters) spoke.

Melissa Heise, who disclosed how she copes with her Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), talked to students about the importance of knowing themselves well enough to figure out ways to handle challenging situations such as job interviews. She offered strategies for maintaining attention during an interview, asking questions and being present when speaking with potential employers, coping with working in large, open spaces and recognizing personal strengths. Of her ADD, she said, “One of the strengths of ADD is I have the ability to focus on one thing for a long time. It helps me get through any tedious or boring tasks. So there are strengths to having a disability, as well as challenges.”

Whitnee Pemberton shared some tips based on her experience in hiring and recruiting. She talked about what to add to a resume, the function of a good cover letter and how to be prepared for an interview by researching a company and crafting appropriate questions. Whitnee also talked about the pros and cons of disclosing a disability. “One pro [to disclosing your disability] is that it can reduce and release stress… it can also help with self-image and self-advocacy,” said Whitnee.

Cooke and AHRCNYC students asked some great questions; then, they got to spend some time together constructing gingerbread houses and decorating cookies. HSBC employees and their families joined in on the fun. It was a wonderful start to the holiday season for Cooke students.

We look forward to our next vocational workshop with HSBC and AHRCNYC!

Staying Fit, Healthy, Active and Engaged

Staying fit and active is so important for young minds. We keep the kiddos moving through OT/PT therapy, gym classes and yoga to target various muscle groups. Activities like bouncing on a “Hippity Hop” ball,  build leg strength while activating the core to engage in an upright position during movement. Students also enjoy climbing, jumping and trapeze swinging, while learning to control their movements and maintain balance.

Other OT goals include handgrip/utensil use: during lunch, students are asked to make coordinated movements as they use their fingers and hands to grasp napkins and utensils. Drawing activities also keep students engaged while strengthening their grip and dexterity.

Gym classes integrate various stretches and movement patterns to help students build their strength, while getting some much-needed fresh air outdoors (on our rooftop playground)!

Yoga is another favorite for encouraging movement and flexibility. Here, our yoga instructor is providing directions for a chair exercise known as the Hero pose, which helps students to stretch their torsos, shoulders and hips.

Support the Roadmap for Inclusion for Young Adults with Disabilities

We are delighted that many of you downloaded the Cooke School/Moody’s Foundation report: Roadmap for Inclusion: A Collaborative Digital Skills Training Model for Young Adults with Developmental Disabilities. The report presents our research findings on neurodiverse talent in the IT industry as well as the development of a new digital skills training model that we hope will improve training and employment prospects for young adults with disabilities.

Please take the next step and join our Linkedin Digital Skills for the Workplace Inclusion Group. Our group of business, nonprofit, government and education partners are working together to build partnerships that will: 1) support the development of a new digital skills training program at Cooke School, 2) provide paid internships for young adults, and 3) offer opportunities for employment.

Please join the Linkedin group by clicking here.Then, join in on the conversation!

In case you missed it, here’s a link to download the report: click here.

Interested in joining the digital skills advisory workgroup as a business, nonprofit or education partner? Please contact Michael Eaton (Vice President, Advancement) at: meaton@cookeschool.org.

#CookeIsOurConstant Video Series: Families Talk About the Impact of a Cooke Education

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