This spring, many students with developmental disabilities graduated from high school, having enjoyed a variety of cutting-edge programs designed to meet their needs. But what is the next step? After high school, there are few opportunities for these young adults to achieve their goals. Until now!
A new program for young adults with developmental disabilities begins this fall at Shepherds Ministries in Union Grove, Wisconsin, helping students reach independence in their work, their homes, and society. Founded with the support of many GARBC churches, Shepherds Ministries celebrates its fiftieth year with a new program called Shepherds College.
Bill Amstutz, president of Shepherds Ministries, describes the new program as a three-year post–secondary education program that prepares young adults to “return home, gain employment in meaningful careers, serve in their churches, and contribute to their communities.”
“Shepherds College will offer an unprecedented level of education and opportunity for adults with developmental disabilities,” says Bill, who describes the new program as “a genuine ‘Degree of Hope’ that fulfills a tremendous need for this population nationally.”
When the program begins in September, students at Shepherds College will earn certificates in either horticulture or culinary arts, learning real-world skills that will allow them to begin careers and progress toward independent living. After coursework is completed, specific job training will prepare the students in practical world settings. As graduation approaches, the college will help place students with employers in their home communities. Later, a life coach will partner with volunteers in local churches to provide graduates with a stabilizing influence during their transition to new working and living environments.
Tracy Terrill, a graduate of Maranatha Baptist Bible College and the University of Wisconsin, has been appointed the director of Shepherds College. “Applications are being currently accepted from students across the nation,” says Tracy, who attributes the early interest in the program to the outstanding reputation of Shepherds Ministries over the years.
“Families have been looking for a program like this, and they know we have the ability to deliver an incomparable opportunity to help take their son or daughter to the next level in life,” Tracy says. “It’s very exciting for the families and their students.”
The college anticipates a full enrollment of twelve to fifteen students for its inaugural freshman year.