Laura Briggin, Cypress School Director
Since opening in 2007, Cypress School has prioritized paid and volunteer jobs for each of our 68 non-public school students with autism and other learning differences. Our Cypress Primary School students (5-15 year olds) volunteer at our ¼ acre organic farm- planning, growing, harvesting and delivering vegetables and fruit to the Petaluma Shelter Kitchen. Our Cypress Secondary School students (16-22 year olds) choose paid and volunteer work options depending on their interests and the available community opportunities.
Over the last eight years, Cypress School students have had paid jobs at Camelbak Hydration Systems, Mrs. Grossman’s Sticker Factory, Diablo Vista Ranger’s Station Farm, Marin Sonoma Landscape, Jessica’s Haven Dog Grooming and Shelter and Sonoma County Dog Shelter, Ner Shalom Temple, Calvary Church, Mary Isaac Shelter, Goodwill, Dharma Trading, OADS Recycling Center, Drew’s Deli, Roundtable Pizza, Phoenix Theater, Special Affects Videography and the most recent job at the Sonoma Skate Shop. New job development is based on student interest, and is done by the Special Education teachers, aides, administrators, therapists, and family members.
Each student has an individualized pre-vocational or vocational goal that supports their increasing independence and length of work, initiation, social, sensory regulation and communication skills. Students can stay with preferred jobs or can move on to new job sites. In addition to the vocational benefit to our students, the community members in these settings learn and benefit from interacting with our students and staff and vice a versa.
Our Cypress Secondary School students (16-22 year olds) are preparing for a successful transition to adult services and spend several days per year visiting adult work opportunities, education, social and living programs. This is a great activity and includes our students interviewing the employees and participants in these services. One of our students has increased to a minimum wage job, 15-hour work-week, in a landscape setting with school staff support.
The best part of these pre-vocational and vocational opportunities has been the pride and joy that each student experiences doing real work in their community with fellow community members!