Morning Sun
  • Around 100 participate in Disability Mentoring Day

  • Slightly more than 100 area high school students participated Tuesday in Disability Mentoring Day at Pittsburg Memorial Auditorium.

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  • Slightly more than 100 area high school students participated Tuesday in Disability Mentoring Day at Pittsburg Memorial Auditorium.
    A nationwide observance, it is designed to promotes career development for those with disabilities. The local event included information sessions on several topics, along with representatives from area employers and Pittsburg State University, Fort Scott Community College, Labette Community College and Crowder College.
    “This is our sixth year,” said LouAnn Colyer, SKIL independent living coordinator. “For our first one, we were packed like sardines in an office behind SKIL. Last year we had around 60 participants, and there was a huge jump in the number of businesses. attending.”
    The event is planned by the Disability Mentoring Day Committee. At noon a special ceremony was held to present the committee with the Michael Lechner Advocacy Award.
    Making the presentation was Kerrie Bacon from the Kansas Commission on Disability Concerns. She said that Lechner, a former KCDC director, was a rebel who was responsible for legislation helping those with disabilities to  stay in their homes and also worked on ways to help those with disabilities advocate for themselves.
    “The Disability Mentoring Day Committee is a catalyst for change,” Bacon said. “Disability is not a barrier to goodness, but a benefit to your bottom line.”
    Committee members, in addition to Colyer, are Darrick Perry, Loretta Audley, Grant Reed, Monica Maus, Sherri Stephens, Brenda Jagels, Nick Holz, Paige Domoney, Rachael Morris, Tina Troth and Dave Holloman.
    The day started with a keynote address by Pittsburg city manager Daron Hall. He shared the three steps to success that his father taught him.
    “Get up, dress up and show up,” Hall said. “If  you do that, 85 percent of  your troubles will go away.”
    He also had some suggestions for job interviews.
    “I’ve interviewed and hired a lot of  people,” Hall said. “Be on time, dress appropriately and use good hygiene. Use good manners and look people in the eye. People want to hire people they can trust, and it’s hard to lie to somebody if you’re looking them in the eye.”
    He also suggested that the students come to an interview with questions of their own.
    “But hopefully you won’t ask the interviewer, ‘If you were part of a cheeseburger, which part would you be’,” Hall said. “Somebody asked me that once in an interview.”
    Students also got additional tips on preparing for interviews, handling job applications, pitfalls of social media, dress code/manners and Kansas Works.
    “This year we added a station on interest surveys and assessments,” Colyer said. “In all my years I think I took one interest survey, but a lot of employers are using them now.”
    Brenda Jagels conducted that session, and told students that the important thing was to answer personality profile questions truthfully.
    Page 2 of 2 - “Pick the answer that best describes you, not what you think they want to hear,” she said. “On values testing, they might ask you if it’s all right to take a paper clip home from work. You might think that’s something simple, but if you’d take a paper clip, they might wonder what else you would take.”
    Elly Fox and Jessi Reichenberger, Pittsburg State University students, conducted the session on social media. Both urged students to think before posting anything online.
    “Do not post any drug or alcohol-related photos,” Reichenberger said. “Forty-four percent of employers have admitted to not hiring somebody on the basis of photos posted on the Internet. And don’t say anything you wouldn’t want on a billboard with your picture.”
    Fox added that the students should not cuss online, and should use correct grammar, be respectful and courteous.
    “The top four things to avoid online are anything related to drinking or drugs, inappropriate pictures, bad-mouthing previous employers and showing poor communication skills,” she said.
    Also included in the program were a skit presented by Pittsburg High School drama students and a fashion show.
    Sarah Reese, Pittsburg High School faculty, said that she felt the day had been a good experience for her students.
    “It’s good for the kids to learn how to ask questions and get information,” she said. “They had online job applications that the kids were able to fill out to show them how to do it, and that was good. The businesses have been wonderful with our kids, and the kids had a lot of fun.”