Pine River-Backus School Board learns about job training program for special education students

Practical Assessment Education System prepares students to join the workforce

Pine River-Backus School Board.jpg
The Pine River-Backus School Board met to discuss business as usual at the Monday, April 4, 2022 meeting.
Travis Grimler / Echo Journal

PINE RIVER — At their Monday, April 4, meeting, Pine River-Backus School Board members learned about the district's Practical Assessment Education System and how it prepares special education students to join the workforce.

Tiffany Abrams, whom students call "supervisor" as part of the program, has 15 students in the PAES program. These students, primarily in grades nine and 10, are provided with a simulated job environment where they practice skills they might find at a workplace.

They are monitored to see how efficiently they perform different tasks and then the results of the program can help those students identify their own skills and weaknesses. Do they excel at measurements with a tape measure? Do they excel at rolling silverware? Can they do these activities independently without seeking much assistance? Do they enjoy any particular task more than another?

After the class is complete, the students have a base line of knowledge that they can possibly apply in specific industries, as well as a feel for what types of jobs they will enjoy compared to those they will not. Abrams also encourages them to use her as a job reference.

The program accomplishes this through use of various boxes full of materials that simulate specific tasks.


Abrams explained that they encourage the students to act independently rather than seeking help immediately. Students who do ask questions are guided instead of being told exactly what to do with questions like, "How would you accomplish X task."

In other business Monday, the board:

  • Approved hiring Michael Young as assistant track coach.
  • Accepted the resignations of Blair Boileau and Rebecca Stabenow, high school special education teachers, and Jeri McDonald, a probationary teacher.
  • Adopted the nonrenewal of a teaching contract with Rachel Warg, a probationary English teacher.
  • Approved a 7% increase for Jonathan Clark's 2022-2023 salary to $132,926.

Travis Grimler is a staff writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal weekly newspaper in Pequot Lakes/Pine River. He may be reached at 218-855-5853 or

Travis Grimler began work at the Echo Journal Jan. 2 of 2013 while the publication was still split in two as the Pine River Journal and Lake Country Echo. He is a full time reporter/photographer/videographer for the paper and operates primarily out of the northern stretch of the coverage area (Hackensack to Jenkins).
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