Pathways Program Finds New Home At GJSHS

The Pathways program aims to prepare its students for life outside of school.

Starting with the 2022-2023 school year, The Pathway Program has moved from its former location at East Meadow to the second floor at Granby Jr/Sr High School – a change that opens new possibilities for both students and staff and will help students transition into independent adults.

The Pathways program’s recent field trip to the Public Safety Complex shows the importance of experiences outside of the classroom.

The Pathways Program is designed to meet the unique needs of students with disabilities whose intellectual, developmental, and academic levels support teaching functional skills in academics, daily living, vocational, and recreation/leisure and community participation for students of all ages. This is a program that is about more than academics, it allows students to learn daily life skills and foster independence. In the program, students are introduced to jobs like vacuuming, cleaning tables, and doing the dishes – with a focus on kitchen safety as well as identifying common kitchen tools, utensils, and how to follow a recipe. The Pathways students are also brought out into the world on trips to help them navigate the world outside of school and so they feel like a part of their community. Each student in the program has an individualized plan for success.

“[Pathways] students need to feel supported so that they can be independent,” said director of the program Tina Potwardowski. “To build their self worth in order to build self advocacy skills, independence, and being a part of a community.”

Currently, Pathways serves grades six through nine but will eventually extend all the way to twelfth grade.

While staff had some reservations and nervousness about transitioning into the high school, those feelings did not last long.

“We had questions [about the move], but since day one here we were astounded,” says staff member Amy Gaj. “Everyone [at GJSHS] was welcoming all the students and staff, which was pleasantly surprising.”

Pathways can be found in Room 225, a room that used to be the old Home Economics classroom. Until recently, 225 had been a storage closet holding old books, materials, supplies, and even furniture after the school classrooms were cleared out to meet COVID spacing guidelines. Being a former Home Ec classroom made the space ideal for the program, and Granby Public Schools maintenance spent the summer preparing the space for Pathways arrival. The room is carpeted and comfortable with space for teaching kitchen skills, space to work on academic skills, and even a rarity in Granby Jr/Sr High School: air conditioning.

As a recent trip to the Granby Safety Complex shows, Ms. Potwardowski committed to making sure students in the pathway program have an experience that goes beyond the walls of the classroom.

“My students need to be comfortable in the community because they will someday be contributing members themselves,” Potwardowski said.

In that spirit, The Pathways program is always looking for opportunities to place students in internships. This is a great way for local businesses to give back to the community, and any interested parties should contact Granby Junior/Senior High School.