Special education student praised for work with Police Department 18-year-old participated in Westminster High's Jobs Readiness program

March 25, 1996|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

His Westminster High School teacher called Kenny Carlisle her "shining star," and Westminster Police Chief Sam Leppo said it will be difficult to replace the 18-year-old senior, who is leaving after two years of dedicated service to his agency.

Mr. Carlisle is one of 10 special education students enrolled in the high school's Job Readiness Program, said Nancy Austin, transition coordinator for the high school, after a police ceremony honored her pupil last week.

Mr. Carlisle received a plaque of appreciation, and the police chief wished him well as he moves on to a 13-week assignment at Winchester Country Inn in Westminster.

After completing that job placement, Mr. Carlisle will graduate, join the county's adult work force and begin getting paid for the job skills he has mastered.

"Kenny is our real success story," said Mrs. Austin, who revamped the high school's special education program three years ago.

"Our students can earn 1 1/2 credits for each semester of volunteer part-time work," she said. "They attend classes in the morning and then work in the afternoon."

Westminster is the only county high school to offer a split-day program for special education students, she said.

The key is to find a good match between student and job placement, said Mrs. Austin, who tries to factor in the student's interests, abilities and personality before deciding on a placement.

"Many times, we try to place a student with someone we already know in the community," she said.

In Mr. Carlisle's case, that part was easy. Mrs. Austin is married to Maj. James M. Austin of the Westminster Police Department, and he gladly accepted the role of evaluating Mr. Carlisle's performance doing custodial work at police headquarters.

"No matter what we asked him to do, Kenny always did it well and even noticed the little things that needed to be taken care of," Major Austin said.

Mr. Carlisle would see a burned-out light bulb, or an unlocked door that he knew should be locked, and he would report it immediately, the major said.

Punctuality, attendance, persistence, attention to detail and a personable nature were some of the job performance skills for which Mr. Carlisle was evaluated.

"Kenny's evaluations were always excellent," Mrs. Austin said.

On Mr. Carlisle's final day at police headquarters, officers staged a surprise party in the training room.

"I was shocked that the party was for me," said Mr. Carlisle, proudly wearing a Westminster Police Department hat and T-shirt he received as farewell gifts.

He also has participated in the Maryland State Police Explorer program for two years, he said, learning cardiopulmonary resuscitation and traffic control techniques.

"The most fun was ride-a-longs with the troopers," he said. "My job on traffic stops was to stay in, or by the car, and call for help on the radio if the troopers needed it.

"The most important thing is to know what street you are on, so you can let someone know where you are," he said.

Mr. Carlisle said he has never had to make such a radio call, but he proved he could handle an emergency recently when he happened upon a sick man who had fallen outside a Westminster restaurant.

"I wasn't sure if he was breathing," Mr. Carlisle recalled.

"I ran into [the restaurant] and shouted for someone to call 911. Then I went back to the man to help."

Paramedics were on the scene almost immediately, Mr. Carlisle said, so "they helped the man."

Pub Date: 3/25/96

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