Jim Hecimovich, Kingsland's interim superintendent and high school principal, signs Jade Miland’s diploma.
Jim Hecimovich, Kingsland's interim superintendent and high school principal, signs Jade Miland’s diploma. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Jade Miland, a longtime Spring Valley resident, recently graduated from the transition program of the Southern Minnesota Education Consortium (SMEC), of which Kingsland is a member school. 

Miland was one of the first students from Kingsland to participate in the new transition program that is located in downtown Spring Valley. The Next STEP (SMEC Transition Education Program) is a work-based learning program that is a partnership between the SMEC member districts, their high schools, and local area businesses. 

Learning at Next STEP exhibits the sequential building of academic knowledge and workplace skills through well-planned work-based learning experiences.  The work-based learning program at Next STEP ensures that students are properly trained in the necessary skills to be successful in entry-level employment. 

Miland started her transition training last year by participating in the hands-on simulated work environment and completing an employment seminar course.  She worked last spring in the district’s school aged child care (SACC) program, a job she enjoyed greatly since she loves to work with kids. Some of her job responsibilities were to wipe down tables and set out the food for snack time.  She also assisted with cleaning the naptime cots. 

Over the summer, Miland partnered with her vocational rehabilitation counselor, Emily Bents, to participate in a job trial with the Spring Valley Historical Society.  With this job placement, Miland was able to assist the historical patrons with tours and helped to entertain the young children who came to visit the museum.

Miland has spent the first quarter of her transition year proving maintenance services at the old middle school building in Wykoff as part of her internship with Next STEP.  She performed a variety of tasks in the building to help the janitorial staff.  Her primary job was to move furniture from various classrooms to a centralized location so staff can more easily access items to be used at the Spring Valley site.  She also helped to maintain the appearance of the building by performing daily janitorial tasks. 

Recently, Miland’s educational and community based transition team held a meeting with her and her mom, Rhonda Miland, to discuss her progress. It was decided by the team, and particularly by Jade, that she was ready to officially graduate from the transition program. 

The Next STEP staff and classmates held a graduation party for her on Friday, Nov. 3, to celebrate her last day as a SMEC transition student.  Miland will now be working with her vocational counselor to find integrated completive employment in the Spring Valley area. 

Next STEP officials said they appreciated the Kingsland SACC program and John Dols, the director of building and grounds, for their assistance in providing Miland with the opportunity to learn beyond the limits of the available high school curriculum with their internship experiences.