April 1, 2022, Beacons expanded its successful PathFinder program by adding the Explorer division to provide vocational training opportunities to individuals who need more time to explore and learn vocational skills than what is currently offered in the original PathFinder program. Explorer vocational training is offered Monday through Friday, although each day's schedule varies so that trainees can pick and choose which days they want to attend, and which subjects they want to learn. Within days, Explorer's Tuesday and Thursdays were filled to capacity, with only a few spots remaining on other days, thanks to the positive and energetic instructional style of Director Bethany Britt and her Explorer team.
"Explorer is about supporting the choices and interests of the adults we serve," said Director Britt, "but in an outside-the-box kind of way to make the options fun and fresh! It's no longer what's appropriate, but what's best!"
Explorer teaches vocational skills through hands-on, experiential opportunities with high expectations, and individualized/adapted demands to implement the mission of the State's Employment First Policy. Britt, a credentialed special education teacher who taught individuals with mild/moderate and moderate/severe instructional disabilities for over a decade, works daily with her team brainstorming innovative ways to provide each "Explorer" meaningful learning opportunities.
Explorer offers supported community volunteering or other community-based training options to build employment skills, as well as onsite workshop modules to provide more in-depth training in areas such as graphic design, culinary arts, entrepreneurship, social skills, customer service, and restaurant skills. Trainees will learn how to use cash registers, take creative ideas from concept to product, and much more.
In just a month, some trainees who have never before used cash registers are now confidently taking orders through the Beacons Coffee Cart option. Trainees have also started learning how to grow, maintain and identify different plants at the leased community lot to learn skills for jobs at places like Lowe's and Home Depot. Because so many entry-level jobs require some degree of lifting and standing, Beacons is working with a physician to provide a fitness option at a local community center to help build stamina, strength and self-regulation skills to better equip trainees for the physical demands of local jobs.
"Even though we've only been up and running a month, we are already tweaking our options to support the vocational interests of our trainees. For example some of our trainees expressed an interest in learning how to DJ so we'll be purchasing DJ equipment to begin training in that area," said Director Britt.
Explorer was made possible by the Beacons Board, the Explorer and PathFinder teams, and the San Diego Regional Center, who helped make this option available to SDRC consumers at no cost to the trainees. If this is what can been done in less than a month, imagine what's in store for the future!
For more information, please contact Director of Explorer: Bethany Britt at Explorer@BeaconsNorthCounty.com.
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