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FVSH, Special School District Partnership Yields Recognized Employee!

After an unprecedented number of nominations, Taylor Huffman, 21, picks up the mantle of Employee of the Month at Fountain View, the assisted living arm of Friendship Village Sunset Hills (FVSH), for December.Tayor Huffman, December Employee of the Month pictured with Erin Rogers, Fountain View director, and Cathy Niehaus, vocational skills teacher at the Special School District.

Taylor epitomizes the success and continuing work from a partnership between Fountain View , the larger FVSH campus and the Special School District's Vocabulary Skills program which is funded by the state of Missouri through the Missouri Department of Secondary and Elemntary Eductaion, Erin Rogers, Fountain View director, said.

Rogers said the partnership serves Fountain View and FVSH residetns with exellence by enhancing residents' lives, ranking FVSH as an employer of choice and partnering with the community.

"Taylor gets the job done. She's a hard worker, always willing to pitch in as exemplified by her seven nominations for this honor. Usually, an employee will recieve one to three nominations from FVSH employees and co-workers across the dietary, housekeeping, and caregiving departments.

"Taylor is a standout because Fountain View, as a smaller unit in the FVSH community, commands fewer votes," Rogers said, Taylor works in the Fountain View dietary department serving breakfast and lunch, setting up for meals, bussing, interacting with residents and operating as a key dietary employee, according to Rogers.

In discussing the vocational skills program, Cathy Niehaus, vocational skills teacher with the District, said,"Many students finish their high school requirements but are not ready for a job. The Special School District's Vocational Skills program fills the void for students, who are not college or tech school bound, and their families in St. Louis County," Niehaus, said.

For the partnership FVSH donates classroom space -and has for more than 20 years- for students in the District's vocational skills program to work on resumes, job interviewing skills, job applications and other skills required for independent living including budgeting and banking.

In addition to classroom space, Fountain View and FVSH provide mentors who work closely with the District teachers to support the students who volunteer three to six hours per day through the school year in entry level positions at Fountain View or elsewhere on the FVSH campus. Initially, students spend half of their time in the classroom and half in a work setting but gradually increase the working units to approximate typical employment, Niehaus said.

Taylor completed two years in the program in 2011 and was proactively hired by FVSH.

The FVSH and vocational program's partnership assists students in finding and keeping employment and living independently, Niehaus said. "We aim to prepare students for a successful transition into adult life.

"By program completion, students have honed their work skills in real work settings after some 1600 hours of work experience and leave ready to begin paid employment. Students, such as Taylor, leave the program ready to begin paid employment."

Niehaus said Tyalor took the program seriously, applied herself and exuded a positive attitude. Overall, FVSH has hired six vocational skills students, including Taylor in recent years.

"The state's vocational rehabilitation services continue after the program completion to provide job development, job coaching and retention services," Niehaus indicated. She quoted the vocational program's mission as providing a continuum of support and service to students and families to assist students in gaining skills needed to achieve a realistic and meaningful post second goals.