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July 20, 2004

School for the Deaf sends students to work at RIT

From: Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, NY - Jul 20, 2004

By Greg Livadas
Staff writer

(July 20, 2004) — A teenager's summer isn't always filled with sleeping until noon, fishing trips and hanging out with friends.

For four students at Rochester School for the Deaf, six weeks of their summers are being spent working at Rochester Institute of Technology. The students are gaining work experience and cash, and the college is getting free summer help since their high school pays their salaries.

RIT has jobs for about 50 high school students this summer, but this is the first time students from RSD have participated.

Daniel Baker, 15, of Gates, and Justin DiBiase, 15, of Parma, are working at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, one of RIT's colleges, in technical support services. They spent part of last week in dorm rooms changing computer settings. Each conversion took only a couple of minutes, but with 12 floors in Ellingson Hall, their services were welcomed.

They're focused and they work very hard, said George Silver, a computer technician at NTID.

Faiz Aliuddin, 17, of Pittsford, and George LaVare, 17, of Palmyra, Wayne County, are working with RIT's maintenance services department. On their first days of work, they kept busy changing light bulbs there are about 18,000 fluorescent lights on campus. They'll also be painting, making repairs and installing floor tiles in some of RIT's 200 buildings.

They've been a great help and will be a great help in the next six weeks, said Frank Bruno, foreman of RIT's maintenance services.

Communication hasn't been a problem. Rick Simpson, a teacher from RSD, accompanied the students to RIT as a job coach and assisted as an interpreter as needed on the first few days.

The job they're doing is repetitive enough, all you have to do is show them, Simpson said.

The students arrive at 8:30 a.m. each workday at RSD, where they punch a time clock. Then they take a school van to their jobs at RIT.

RSD has 38 students working full-time jobs and eight students working part-time jobs this summer, who are paid $5.15 an hour by the school. Many of the students are working on RSD's campus as groundskeepers, housekeepers, dietitians, classroom interns, computer technologists and photographers.

Part of the study aspect is to help them begin to look at their paycheck and see what's removed for taxes and what that money is being used for by the government, said Laurie Way, coordinator of the Summer Work Studies Program at RSD. We do a lot of things as it relates to responsible handling of your money and how to handle a budget.

Letters were sent home with RSD students in the winter asking about their interest in a summer job. More applied this year than could be accommodated, Way said.

We're trying to develop partnerships with other sites where we could develop some positions off the RSD campus and provide staff on that site to allow our students to grow, Way said. We really look at it as a resume developer. Whether they are college bound or not, it is a useful reference showing their employability skills so they are better workers.

Last year, Daniel worked on the RSD campus as a grounds-keeper. He earned about $800, money he saved to buy a dirt bike, said his father, also named Daniel Baker.

He wants to work, Baker said. He wants his own things, so he's got to spend his own money for his own things.

But Daniel's job isn't just about making money.

He doesn't like to stay home; he gets bored, Baker said. If he didn't have this, he'd be home playing games on the computer.

Although working as a groundskeeper last year kept him busy and taught him new skills, Daniel is thrilled to be getting paid to work with computers this year, a field he'd like to possibly work in after he's done with school.

And his job will give him a closer look at the college he hopes to attend.

He loves it. This is what he wanted, his father said. This will help him later and teach him a sense of responsibility.

Copyright 2004 Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.