News & Events

Franklin students get firsthand look at work places

October 22, 2009

BRIDGEWATER -- Thomas Armento was so exicted after learning about the inner workings of the Somerset Patriots that he raised his hand and asked, “Where can I get an application?”

The South Brunswick 19 year old was one of 15 special-needs students from the New Road School at Somerset -- and 800 -- statewide, who participated in National Disability Mentoring Day today.

The event is sponsored by Allies Inc., a nonprofit that serves New Jersey residents with special needs, and gives students a chance to explore careers by pairing them with employers in the community.

“This is an opportunity for students to get out in the working world and see how real businesses operate,” said Mike Cestero, DMD coordinator. “I think it’s important for them to see that there are several different options out there, but it’s also important for employers to consider hiring workers with disabilities.”

Laurie Foster, structured learning experience supervisor for the school in Franklin Township, said this was the second year her students have participated in the program.

“I think it’s a great program that allows the students to learn about the businesses around them and get a feel for what they want to do in the future,” she said. “We don’t expect them to pick a career out of what we’re doing today, but we do want to show them what’s available.”

The Somerset students toured the TD Bank Ballpark in Bridgewater, the Shop Rite of Somerset and Fletcher Thompson Architect Engineering in Somerset to get a behind-the-scenes look at the businesses and potential job opportunities.

Joann Eltringham, associate director of Interior Design for Fletcher and Thompson Architecture Engineering, guided students through the firm, which specializes in creating buildings for hospitals, schools, and medical offices.

Students were shown a life-sized mock up of a hospital room that was outfitted with environmentally friendly materials and complete with a bed and nursing station.

“We do this to get a sense of what we can do and how we can do it because we design spaces where people can live work and play,” Eltringham said.

As the students perused carpet samples, door knobs and color tiles, Eltringham walked them through the process of creating a fully functional room from a blueprint.

“This all started on a piece of paper,” she told them, pointing out an addition the firm designed for the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital North Building in New Brunswick.

Stephanie Saraive, 18, said although she does not want to go into interior design she appreciated the experience.

“When we have our own individual lives, it’s good to know what’s out there and what we can do,” she said.

The Somerset teen, a traumatic brain injury survivor, said exploring the hospital room allowed her to see the different components of architecture and design come together.

“It was cool to see just how much goes into all of this and how much more comfortable people will be in there because somebody actually thought about all this stuff,” she said.
Marc Russinoff, the Somerset Patriots’ vice president of public relations, said employees in marketing, ticketing and public relations shared their experience in the sports industry with the students.

“This is a fun place to work and a fun field to be in,” he said, ”This is an opportunity for them to see how it all works and we hope they were able to get a first-hand look at what goes into all of this.”

Before leaving the ball park Armento made sure to get that application.

Armento, who has dystonia, currently works at a golf course in Princeton and said he hasn’t settled on a profession yet, but the mentoring day has helped him narrow down what he is interested in.

“I don’t know what road I’m going to take,” he said. “So the more I get my feet into all these doors, the better it will be when I do know.”

Alexandra Pais/For The Star-LedgerStudents from the New Road School in Somerset, from left, Laurie Foster, Bianca Green and Mayra Quispe, look at plans with Joann Eltringham, director of interior design at Fletcher Thompson Architecture firm, shows them during their visit today.

 

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