JET program in Lowndes county

The Lowndes County school system, along with special education instructors, are preparing children with special needs or disabilities to reach their full potential and enter the workforce.

Keith Rudolph is the special education collaborative teacher at Central High school and he is working hard to help his students get the most out of programs geared toward his students. He expressed his pride in all the effort his students have put forth this year.

One of these programs is the JET, or Job Exploration Training program

“At Lowndes County Public Schools, the transition services are going in the right direction. Over the past few years, we have been able to establish a community based transition team that has assisted us in providing many transition activities for our students to participate in,” Rudolph said.

“Working with many stakeholders on a local, district and state level, has made this experience a great success for our students,” he added.

This year, 10 students from the Lowndes County school system took part in the JET program enabling them to gain real world work experience through community business partners.

Nine students from Central and Calhoun High Schools did a summer internship at Priester’s Pecan in Fort Deposit. One student worked at First Years Child Development Center in Lowndesboro.

These students include:

Ernest Hall, a 12th grader from Central High School. He is the son  of Jackie McPherson and Ernest Hall, Sr. When asked what he liked best about his job, he said, “I like putting the candy in the boxes.” Hall also said he liked making money so he could help out with the bills and he had high praise for his supervisor Shanti Wilson.

Synoya Jones, an 11th grader form Central High School, was proud of the new skills learned on the job. When asked about the overall experience at Priester’s, Jones said, “I like the cleaning up and organizing. I liked using the machine to seal the treats.” Would Jones recommend a job at Priester’s to a friend? Jones said “Come on!” She is the daughter of Carolyn Jones. .

Alvin Johnson, a 2021-2022 graduate of Central High School said, “I enjoyed working. This was my first time. I like working with my kinfolks and I like making money, too.” He is the son of Karen Means. Quinderrick Rudolph is the son of Helen Mary and Carver Rudolph. He is a 12th grader from Central High School.

Courtney Johnson is a 10th grader from Central High School. Johnson also worked at Priester’s this year. She is the daughter of Latisha Johnson. Lamar Anderson is a 12th grader from Central High School. He worked at Priester’s as well. He is the son of  Beatrice Dudley.

DeAndrew Holcombe is an 18 year old that attends Calhoun High School who completed his internship at Priester’s. His guardian is Charlie Mae Holcombe. Shakira Coleman, also a recent graduate from Central High School, worked at the First Years Child Development Center. Her guardian is Jacqueline Coleman. Cartez Hines, an 11th grader from Central High School, enjoyed his time at Priester’s. He is the son of Sharon and Early Rush.

Shawnicee Brown, a 12th grader from Calhoun High School, raved about her experience working at Priester’s. From learning how to operate new and different machines to learning about measurements, which will help her with her dream job of becoming an architect, Brown loved the whole experience. She said, “Thank God for bringing me to Priester’s.”

The 2022 program began on June 13 and will end on July 1.

Rising high school juniors and seniors who are VR consumers are potentially eligible in a pre-app status.

The program strives to teach what is called Smart Work Ethics to its participants. The students go through three days of training before going to work, in the hope that this will help them get hired by a local participating business.

The first week, the students learn the soft skills necessary for a job. Among several things, the students learn about how to dress on the job, their personal hygiene for work and how to work as part of a team.

The second and third weeks is when the students take their new skills out into the workforce. They do internships with the partner employers. The students work five days a week and five hours a day, unless there is something that prevents them from this.

The students are covered under workman’s compensation insurance and they are monitored by the Easter Seals staff on a weekly basis.

The partner businesses share an interest in helping these students reach their goals. There is also no cost to the business for participating in the program.

The JET program is a collaboration between the Easter Seals organization in Alabama and the Lowndes County public schools. The Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services, Beverly Bonner and the Alabama State Department of Education’s Diane Byars also play a major part in assuring that this program reaches as many students as it can.

Jennifer Coleman is the employment specialist with this area’s Easter Seals , which is the go-to community rehabilitation provider for Lowndes county.

These organizations partner with local businesses to help students with disabilities gain hands-on job experience.

If you are interested in getting your business involved in this program, contact Hamilton Richardson with the Easter Seals of Central Alabama. Richardson can be reached at (334)717-0491 or by email at