Ticonderoga Jeremiah Hurlburt is good at his job. The Ticonderoga Middle School student moves from task to task each day in the school cafeteria and office, paving the way for future pupils.
Hurlburt, who is autistic, is the first student in a new program designed specifically for children with special needs at the school.
“Instead of doing traditional academic work all day, Jeremiah is in a life-skills program,” explained Ellen Hubbard, a special education teacher. “This is an opportunity for him to learn job skills he can later in life take into the community.”
And while Hurlburt is learning, so is the Ti school district.
“Jeremiah is the first student in the program, but he won’t be the last,” Hubbard said. “We have other students in the district who are different learners. As they get older this new program will also give them the opportunity for life-skills training.”
Hurlburt, the son of Linsey and Robert Hurlburt, began the school year working about 10 minutes a day in the cafeteria. He’s now working about 45 minutes a day breaking down boxes, stocking milk, sorting silverware and other tasks. He also occasionally helps out the school office.
“Jeremiah’s come so far,” Hubbard said. “The ladies in the cafeteria have been awesome and he loves coming to work. He feels he’s part of the team. As he’s learned new skills as we’re added more and more jobs. It’s been a real success.
“The work has been really good for his self-esteem,” the teacher added. “He has complete ownership of these tasks. He knows what needs to be done and does it.”
In fact, Hurlburt has been given some management duties. As part of the program he directs Hubbard on what needs to be done.
“I work for him,” she said. “He tells me what to do and I do it. He’s really accepted the responsibility that goes along with a job.”