She helps Southold students far beyond the classroom

Some students may need help writing a resume. Others may need help identifying a program they would apply to in college. Some try to obtain working documents.

In the Southold School District, Nicole Helf is the go-to person for helping students beyond just academics. In her role as Transition and Career Coordinator, Ms. Helf had previously focused on supporting students with an individualized education program, which caters to children with disabilities.

“Towards the end of last year there was kind of a push from parents, students, and even building and board of education staff to want more of that and not necessarily just for students with IEPs, but all the students. in the district,” Ms. Helf said.

The program has expanded this year to allow Ms Helf, a former Southold pupil, to offer assistance to all pupils in the district and help them prepare for various tasks largely centered on life after school. .

Transition support had previously been outsourced to an agency until Ms Helf began working with students who had a part-time Individualized Education Program in 2019. She now works full-time in the district in its role.

“I have students who come to me for various reasons,” Ms. Helf said. “I have students who come to me for jobs, you know, filling out a job application…making sure they get their work papers…constantly updating the job board , I push in different classes to do different lessons…that sums up a lot.”

Ms. Helf has also developed a career exploration site as a resource for students when trying to decide on a career path.

“So when students take an inventory of interests and that tells them what their career group is, then they can go to the website and watch the different videos there, in that career group. career, so they can kind of learn a bit. kinda about it,” she said.

The site focuses on local alumni. These alumni are available for students to ask questions about their career paths, Ms. Helf said.

“All of those people there are available as a resource if they have any further questions or, you know, would like to ask them something about their career path,” Ms. Helf said. “It’s something that’s constantly evolving; I’m constantly uploading new videos on it as well.

She said early planning is also important. She visits the elementary school to discuss things like meaningful goal setting and to identify children’s interests and talents.

“I think our administration and the school board kind of recognized that if we started this a lot earlier, if we started this process of identifying students what their interests are … it would kind of clear the way for them to be able to choose more meaningful courses to take, as this might somehow steer their interests in the right direction.

Ms Helf said the community response to the expansion of this scheme has been “wonderful”.

“I am grateful that the school board and administration believe that transitions should be for all students,” she said. “And I feel like our students [are] moving forward with these extra lessons to orient their path even at the elementary level, and starting to learn more about themselves than the curriculum alone will only improve in the long run for our students.

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