The Elevate Program, which is a partnership between Navarro College and local independent school districts in Ellis county allows students with special needs to earn a continuing education certification. This certification is designed for students with cognitive and learning disabilities. The focus is to improve their reading, communication, computer and job skills, while also developing employment and job searching skills.

Melissa Boler serves as the instructor for the program. She said it's a great program that gives her students a chance to remain in school a little longer in order to get the information they need.

“This program gives our kids a chance to get off of the high school campus, while allowing them to remain in school a little bit longer than a traditional student,” Boler said. “It also gives them a chance to get into a real world environment.”

The students, which range in ages 18-21 spend half a day attending classes at Navarro and the other half on a job site. During class time they are taking courses that focus on improving work related reading and communication skills. The students take six courses per semester.Upon completion they are rewarded a continuing education certification of completion for marketable skills.

Boler said they mainly focus on the vocational and social aspect of things.

“We help students with things that a traditional student may be able to pick up on their own,” she said. “We teach them how to fill out a job application, the importance of hierarchy in a company, budgeting and understanding how the world works in general.”

She said the greatest thing about the program is watching the students transform over the course of two years.

“I've seen them make huge transitions from the first time they walked through the door,” Boler said. “Some of them come and they may not be as out going or good at communicating, but by the time they receive their certification they are ready for the world and the workplace.”

Boler said it's important for these students to get out of the classroom and into real world environments.

Although this is the fifth year of the program's existence, she said it has taken time to develop it.

“It takes time to develop a program like this,” she said. “We are now really going strong and the kids are benefitting. We have 10 students this year, but we can have as many as 21.”

She said if there is one thing she wants people in the community to know about Elevate it would be to see how valuable these students are to the workplace.

“They are some of the most positive and hard working people you will ever meet,” Boler said.

Elevate means to raise and promote. Boler said these students are definitely being challenged to rise to their full potential and further their education.

For more information about the Elevate program, email Melissa_Boler@midlothian-isd.net.