Tyler ISD, CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Health System Leaders, and Project SEARCH community partners have received the CHRISTUS Health Diversity and Inclusion Award. The award recognizes exceptional individuals and teams which demonstrate leadership and commitment to diversity by fostering an inclusive work environment that respects the dignity of all CHRISTUS Health Associates and community.
National health care leaders Marcos Pesquera, CHRISTUS Health VP of Community Benefits, Health Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and CEO Ernie Sadau made the presentation during a special recognition ceremony held Thursday, Nov. 7 at the Wisenbaker Conference Center in Tyler. The ceremony highlighted the importance of the Project SEARCH partnership to the many lives it has touched through the years.
This program began at CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Health System in 2015 as a collaboration between Tyler ISD, Texas Workforce Solutions, Andrews Center and Winning Edge Employment Services. The goal of Project SEARCH is to educate and train Tyler ISD students with disabilities for today’s workforce. These students rotate through three internships throughout the school year, gaining skills for competitive employment opportunities throughout the community.
“Our Project SEARCH interns are on campus at CHRISTUS Mother Frances Hospital - Tyler Monday through Friday, working 9:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. every day,” Tracy Johnston, Tyler ISD special education coordinator, said. “Working together with all members of the team, they come up with career goals that they strive to reach by graduation. The program helps to create a support system to aid in the transition from school to work while increasing independence, confidence and self-esteem.”
Since its inception in 2015, 31 interns have completed the program and nine are currently enrolled. Twenty-six of the 31 interns now have permanent competitive employment. Additionally, multiple interns have received their driver licenses or now utilize public transportation for independence.
“Tyler ISD is grateful for the Project SEARCH partnership and its impact on our students with disabilities,” Tyler ISD Superintendent Dr. Marty Crawford, said. “Our district vision is to create successful student outcomes and this vision applies to all Tyler ISD students. Partnerships such as Project SEARCH helps make that vision possible.”