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Donna ISD Unveils 18+ Program

Donna Independent School District leaders, staff, board members, and parents gathered Monday, Jan. 16th to celebrate the district’s new Student Transitional Eighteen Plus Program (S.T.E.P.P.) located at our recently repurposed Runn Facility south of Donna.

To commemorate this special occasion, the district held a ribbon cutting ceremony where details of the 18+ Program were unveiled. “Our vision is to graduate all students college, career or military ready including students who need additional support,” Dr. Angela Dominguez, Donna ISD Superintendent said. “This has just been an amazing opportunity for us and even more exciting for our kids.”

Under the program, high school students with disabilities between the ages of 18 to 21 will have the opportunity to learn vocational and soft skills as well as build the confidence they need to help them transfer from school to after graduation with the goal of successfully transition into the workforce. “Knowing that our kids needed additional support to transition that was hands-on, and in the field, really motivated us to do something different to meet the individualized academic needs of our students,” Superintendent Dominguez said.


Specifically, students will have hands on experience with gardening, merchandise design, and 

maintaining and running a coffee shop and thrift store. Through these interactive workstations, students will gain important skills including how to create items for sell, and serve and communicate with customers. “We set up a variety of stations for them to learn specific skills that they can use in order to gain employment once they leave the school system,” Sylvia Cardenas, Director of the Department of Special Education said. “The main focus is giving them the confidence to know that they can work in a workplace.”

Student Esmeralda Cruz particularly enjoys working outside the recently constructed garden. “I love it because they teach us independent life skills like gardening,” Cruz said. “I like the garden because it looks nice and beautiful.”

Jessica Vega’s daughter Tiffany, also loves spending time gardening and learning about plants. “Tiffany is now able to identify the different kinds of plants,” Vega said. “For example, when we go grocery shopping she’ll say ‘oh mom mint’, which she refers to as a mint leaf. She knows what rosemary is. She also knows the difference of the texture of dirt. She’s been gardening with grandma outside and she’ll be like ‘mom dirt, hard’. So she knows that she needs to make it a soft kind of dirt for the plants to grow. It’s been a great benefit.”

Vega said she is grateful to Donna ISD for bringing the 18+ Program to the district. “I am very thankful to the district that they’re doing this and I would love for this to continue and grow because we do have a lot of students that can benefit from this program.”