Power of Public: Teaching every child skills for independence

Grace is one of 17 HISD students with developmental disabilities working at the Houston Food Bank through a partnership with H.E.A.R.T. (Housing, Entrepreneurship, and Readiness Training). HISD has several programs to help young adults like Grace transition successfully from high school to a productive adult life.

Editor’s Note: February 27 through March 3 is Texas Public Schools Week, and we are celebrating by sharing personal stories throughout HISD on how public education is helping students succeed. Tweet at us @HoustonISD and share how public education is positive force for you or your student, using the hashtag #PowerofPublic.

Grace keeps looking at her watch. It’s quite impressive — a large wristwatch she got for Christmas. It’s the perfect gift for this 19-year-old developmentally disabled HISD student, because her life is busy, and she can’t be late to her internship at the Houston Food Bank.

“I get up at 5:20 a.m., shower, dress, and fix my lunch,” Grace said. “I have to catch the bus at 6:20 a.m., but sometimes it comes early, so I go to the bus stop at 6:10 a.m.”

After school, she helps care for her aunt’s baby before going home for dinner. Then Grace and her mother often go to church for Bible study or dance class. They usually attend church on Sundays, too, but on a recent weekend, a cousin surprised her with a ticket to the Houston Texans playoff game against the Detroit Lions. “We won!” she said.

Grace works at the food bank through an HISD partnership with H.E.A.R.T., or Housing, Entrepreneurship, and Readiness Training. She is learning product recognition, food labeling, and money handling; she is enthusiastic about everything but especially enjoys working in the Texans Café, where
she makes coffee, cleans tables, and assists customers.

Grace will graduate once she completes her internship, and counselors will help her find a fulfilling job or enroll her in a more advanced training program. And her aunt may have a job for her in her Salvadoran restaurant.

“That’s okay,” Grace said, “as long as it’s not in the kitchen.” She loves people and would prefer to be out front helping the customers.

Read more stories that feature the power of public education in HISD