Jaime French Appointed Member of Connecticut Transition Task Force
Jaime French, Step Forward program director at Gateway Community College, has been appointed to the Connecticut Transition Task Force (TTF) Membership Committee. The TTF directly supports the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) in its efforts to guide students with disabilities, families, schools, and state and community organizations to facilitate the students’ transition to post-school activities. French brings a wealth of experience to her appointment; she’s headed Step Forward, the only transition program in Connecticut run by a community college, for 16 years.
Specifically, the TTF Membership Committee ensures that the TTF is comprised of a variety of stakeholders across Connecticut and its agencies. While French hasn’t served on the committee until now, she’s worked with a majority of stakeholders all along.
“The Connecticut Transition Task Force is made up of different types of professionals who work on transition initiatives,” French said. “People like myself in higher education, people from vocational rehabilitation agencies, and so on. I run Step Forward, so our paths cross often.”
Among its tenets, the TTF “advocates for and promotes an equal opportunity for all students to prepare for and participate in meaningful work and competitive integrated employment, and life-long learning for students with disabilities to engage in activities to enhance independent living, health and wellness and community participation.” French said the idea of transitioning students with disabilities into lives where they can be more self-sufficient is gaining traction, and her new appointment helps keep her in the circle of important work and conversations.
“I’m grateful to be a part of this task force,” French said. “We are trying to give these students the ability to develop executive functioning skills like organizational skills and problem solving skills. We give them a bridge from high school to adult life and not get lost in the system. We put them into the driver’s seat of their own life. We help them find their own voice. It’s a transformation.”
Step Forward I is a 10-month transition program for young adults with mild cognitive disabilities. The curriculum focuses on interpersonal communication, daily living skills, college readiness, and workplace readiness. Students who move into Step Forward II take courses for college credit, and the expectations are higher. To learn more visitwww.gatewayct.edu/Step- Forward-Programs or email