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Last updateTue, 26 Mar 2019 12am







    Sunday, March 24, 2019-7:50:57A.M.






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OVR delivers Skills to Pay the Bills to special education students

(OVR) — The Office of Vocational Rehabilitation launched Skills to Pay the Bills, a program focused on the “workplace readiness training” requirement under their Pre-Employment Transition Services program for students with disabilities.

Twenty Marianas High School and Kagman High School special education students were offered a one-month training in this program that teaches them work readiness, otherwise known as soft skills for employment.

Soft skills are everyday interpersonal skills that job seekers need to succeed on the job. They include communicating clearly and appropriately, remembering work directions, working well with others, and knowing how to solve problems. These skills help youth succeed in life no matter what they are doing, which may include succeeding in education, independent living, community participation, and ultimately, in the workplace.

The Skills to Pay the Bills program was designed by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, to help teach students skills in the following six areas: Communication, Attitude, Enthusiasm, Team Work, Problem Solving/Critical Thinking, and Professionalism.

Each of the six topics/lessons had various individual and group exercises, as well as discussions and videos on various key points. Students were given pre-tests and post-tests to see if the instruction was effective or if adjustments were necessary on lesson delivery.

Two of the more popular exercises were: 1) the team building “marshmallow/straw challenge,” which required students to work as a team to design and build the tallest free-standing structure, and 2) a communications exercise that tested the listening skills of the participants where they had to draw various symbols in the correct location without being able to ask questions or clarification.

Although the activities were fun in nature, they brought to light key skills that each participant will need to develop to be an effective staff member.

“There are a number of students with various types and levels of learning disabilities that will be graduating this year and they are very suitable for employment. By providing them with a program like this, they are more likely to be prepared, understand the challenges they will face at work and how best to succeed,” explained Jim Arenovski of Island Training Solutions, the provider of the Skills to Pay the Bills courses. He added, “We are happy to be a part of bringing this important program to our students”.

He concluded by saying, “It was clear the students enjoyed the program and picked up a better understanding of what the ‘world of work’ would be like, and how they can contribute to the CNMI’s workforce. Understandably, the students were hesitant and shy when the classes first started, but shortly thereafter, there was a noticeable bond between the instructors and the students.”

OVR extends thanks to the principals and special education heads, Leila Staffer and Anna Yamada at KHS, and Cherlyn Cabrera and Preston Basa at MHS, for without their confidence and trust in OVR’s Skills to Pay the Bills and Island Training Solutions, this program would not have been possible.

“OVR should be commended for their foresight in getting this program launched, and we are hopeful this program will expand to Saipan Southern High School, as well as the Dr. Rita Hocog Inos Jr./Sr. High School and Tinian Jr./Sr. High School,” stated Arenovski. He continued by saying, “Director Yamagata, Josephine Tudela, and Lourdes Atalig were a great team to work with, and extremely supportive in bringing this curriculum to the high schools.”

If you have a child with a disability who is interested in entering the workforce, and would like more information on these efforts, please contact OVR at 322-6537/8 or send an email to