Meet Michelle!

Orchard Village Academy helps young adults with disabilities transition from high school to competitive jobs, college enrollment, and more independent lives.

Recent Orchard Academy graduate Michelle first came to the Academy wanting to increase her social skills, learn to advocate for herself, and prepare for a job in the community. Soon, she successfully interned at Niles Food Pantry, Sunrise Senior Living, Walgreens, Marshalls, and CCs Pizza. She especially enjoyed working with older adults at Sunrise Senior Living, and she hopes to consider this line of work in the future

With Academy instructors’ guidance, Michelle created a resume, practiced interviewing, and learned to use online job search engines and her network to identify job postings best suited for her. Using these tools, she applied for jobs, went on interviews, and followed up with interviewers. She gained confidence each step of the way. Michelle also volunteered at Bernie’s Book Bank, Cradles to Crayons, and Feed My Starving Children. She was completely committed to her academic work and community-based instruction, always determined to do her personal best. Michelle mastered her daily living tasks and budgeting and even made a four-course meal independently.   She began finding her voice in group discussions and continually contributed her perspective on things.

Michelle interned at a local banquet hall, where she gained practical work experience. She was encouraged by Academy staff to apply for a competitive job there and took it upon herself to ask the manager if they would hire her. After the interview was scheduled, Michelle practiced her interview skills with her Job Coach. During the actual interview, she was articulate and confident. She did not hesitate to state her expectations when asked what salary she wanted. She got the job at the hourly rate she requested! Michelle completed her 90-day trial period on the job and has since received the Employee of the Month award several times. She gets continuous praise from her supervisors for her hard work.

Michelle has also supported events at Orchard Village.   She worked at the Cocktails for a Cause fundraiser selling raffle tickets – proving to herself that she could be confident in large, loud spaces. She did a fantastic job and was proud of her accomplishment.

Michelle has grown so much since her first day at Orchard Academy. She continues to set new goals and achieve big milestones. She is determined! We are so proud of Michelle and thrilled to stand with her on this path to success.