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CCC’s Garden State Pathways Program Fosters Development


Bernadette M. Gismonde

The Garden State Pathways Program (GSP) is a postsecondary, transitional program sponsored by Camden County College (CCC) for those with intellectual/cognitive disabilities. The program serves students 18 years of age or older who are eligible for or who have received Individuals with Disabilities Education Act funding and are interested in learning a work-related skill and enhancing their independence with life skills.

Like many community colleges throughout the nation, CCC has needed a program like GSP for a long time. CCC’s mission is to provide accessible, affordable education to all who can benefit from its programs, supporting the economic development of the Camden County region and the personal development of local residents. Through GSP, we are serving a group of students who were not benefiting from our traditional career programs but who are now successfully moving toward productive, independent living.

Students may enter GSP after meeting all high school requirements, despite not having accepted their official diploma. The program continues to meet the needs of students based on their individualized education plan (IEP) while the high school develops and tracks all of the needs stated in the IEP.

Students take classes in socialization, numeracy, literacy and computers. They are required to spend time developing their skills in a career area that will enhance their employability.

After completing all required courses and work experiences in this two-year program, students receive a certificate of postsecondary studies from CCC.

Students are encouraged to integrate into campus life through activities such as the Spring Fling festival and the Welcome Back Barbecue event. They also are encouraged to attend educational lectures and programs that are offered on campus but outside the regular classroom.

GSP is funded by a five-year grant awarded by the Department of Education, with supplemental funds provided by the College. Students pay for their enrollment in the program with funding from different sources, including parents, school districts, the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services and/or the Division of Developmental Disabilities. The College is committed to sustaining the program when the grant ends.

To that end, resources are being developed to maintain the program. The aim is to provide services to students who require an alternative to a traditional college education and will benefit from a smaller, vocationally focused structure far into the future.

For additional information about Camden County College’s Garden State Pathways Program, please contact me by telephone at (856) 227-7200, ext. 4503, or via e-mail at bgismonde@camdencc.edu.  

Bernadette M. Gismonde has been the coordinator of the Garden State Pathways Program at Camden County College since 2011. Before coming to CCC, she was director of vocational services at a facility serving those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Gismonde holds a bachelor of arts degree in social and human services from Duquesne University and a master of arts degree in counseling from Rowan University.



As seen in Camden County Woman

 

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