Lenape Regional High School District Child Study Team Student Job Developer, Kim Mileszko, is nominated for USA TODAY’s Best of Humankind Awards. This award honors everyday people who have showcased the highest level of kindness and perseverance in 2021. Mileszko is nominated in the Best of Humankind in the Educator of the Year category.
Mileszko, who has been with the district for 13 years, was nominated by an employer for her work as a job developer for the special needs population between the ages of 17-21.
In the past year, Mileszko connected students through a program at LRHSD called Transition to Adulthood Program (TAP). This program al
lows students with disabilities to learn different skills for their futures, with the help of local small businesses in the area.
Mileszko explained how she tried to reimagine ways to work through a time where everyone was separated while still making them feel connected. Mileszko explained that her students, who were typically allowed to go out and help, were unable to do so because of the pandemic. She then further explained how she came up with the idea of “remote work” which would bring the work to the students instead. The administration of LRHSD approved the idea and Mileszko began cold calling businesses and posting on social media platforms to ask for participants in her new project.
Through her work and the help of others, the concept took off and Mileszko acted in collecting the work assignments from the employers. She explained that the students were exposed to different jobs in the community from food and beverage, retail, administration, child care, animal care and elder care. Businesses also allowed her to come in-person and conduct live virtual tours that were streamed into the classroom.
This program helped both TAP and local small businesses through the pandemic by . teaching skills and concepts to the students and assisting the small business where they needed an extra hand. Aside from helping each other, Mileszko also brought back a sense of unity.
Mileszko spoke about the end product of this idea allowing herself and others to witness such a beautiful experience during the hard times of COVID-19.
“It really was about two people coming together, working together for a common goal, that not only benefited the employer but in turn it also benefited the students,” Mileszko said. “You walked away from an environment in a world that was again very divisive, into feeling like there were connections being made again. To me that was the most rewarding thing about being a part of this.”
This year, about 30 students will intern a few days a week at different local businesses. Over 45 employers will be participating in this project.
Mileszko mentioned the gratitude she felt in being nominated in the Best of HumanKind award, although she stressed to the Sun that the important part of this project is helping others and paying it forward.
“I am very humbled that an employer nominated me, but again the story is so much bigger than me. It’s really about all of them,” Mileszko said. “I am just so honored to be a part of it really.”