About Project SEARCH
Norman’s Project SEARCH Academy will mark the end of its third year with the graduation of six students. The program, which aims to provide integrated and competitive employment opportunities for students with disabilities, provides workplace training through non-paid internships for students between 18 and 21 years of age. Twenty students have completed the program since its inception in 2015.
Each student completes three, 10-week internships in areas such as banquet service, housekeeping, laundry, maintenance, food/beverage outlets and culinary services. Students learn transferable job skills for future employment and also participate in hour-long sessions focused on teamwork, communication, interviewing, resume writing, financial management and health.
The program is made possible through a unique partnership between Norman Public Schools, Embassy Suites by Hilton Norman, OU National Center for Disability Education and Training, the Department of Rehabilitation Services and Dale Rogers Training Center.
“This program has really boosted my son's confidence,” said Angela Breath-Razor, the mother of a former Project SEARCH graduate. “The students, teachers and Embassy staff embraced him and treated him like everyone else, which made me feel good about sending him there.”
Breath-Razor says parents who have children with disabilities often worry about their child’s future, especially as the parents grow older and eventually pass away.
“The skills my son has developed through his participation in this program have given me encouragement about his future and helped me realize that he will succeed as he moves through various stages of life.”
The hospitality industry offers a wide variety of occupations within one building and students leave with a wide range of job skills and experience. At the conclusion of the program, students have completed high school and are often successful at securing sustainable employment.
“Embassy Suites by Hilton is a wonderful host business,” said Project SEARCH Instructor Megan Curry. “And, while the program offers a unique experience for students, everyone involved in the program agrees that the work ethic, enthusiasm and positivity demonstrated by each student has a profound and meaningful impact on us as well.”