Pre-ETS - Haiden Partin: Helping People through the Hardest Times

Pre-employment transition services (or Pre-ETS) help students with disabilities prepare for life after high school. Pre-ETS are offered to students between ages 14-22. This program is a partnership between high schools and the Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) program under the TN Department of Human Services (DHS).

Pre-ETS services can help young adults with disabilities:

  • Learn about jobs
  • Learn about college or training programs
  • Get jobs or internships
  • Practice skills needed for jobs and/or living on their own
  • Learn how to speak up for themselves

Kristi Fruechtl is the transition case manager for Tullahoma High School and leads the Transition School to Work program for the district. She connected us to former student Haiden Partin, who graduated last year.

Pre-ETS and other transition supports through VR and the school helped Haiden find an internship that matched his interests. It quickly turned into a career he loves.

Haiden shared with us why he’s passionate about working in funeral homes.

(Pre-ETS intro adapted from Transition Tennessee.)

headshot of Haiden, a young man in a suit with short blonde hair and a smile
Haiden Partin

What is a funeral director, or what some may call a mortician? A funeral director is a person who handles the care of the deceased from the time of death until burial. You will have to attend college and receive a degree in mortuary science. Funeral directing is beneficial and rewarding. A two-year program that is called an apprenticeship is offered locally. Duties include handling of remains, embalming, and working funeral services.

A funeral director provides the space and resources for families to come together and celebrate a life that has been lived. The director arranges for the necessary permits, such as death certificates and cremation authorizations/permits, while they are preparing the deceased for their final resting place. In this article I will be discussing what I have done to become an apprentice funeral director, also called a mortician or undertaker, and what you can do to become one as well!

When you think of the word “mortician,” what images come to mind? I would argue that the images that come to mind are surprisingly different from reality. Being an apprentice funeral director and embalmer, I have seen the ins and outs of being a “mortician.” I can attest to the fact that it is not for the faint of heart. Though this career is rewarding, I have found out that you must have a sturdy mind to do this. Being on call, then coming in to work a full day is hard both on your body and mind. Caring for someone that is close to your age is hard, but it is part of the job. Like every other career, there is a good side and a bad side. One of the rewarding sides of the job is when a family walks up to you and says, “thank you.” Those two words have a lot of meaning behind them when you have spent hours preparing for the service of their loved one.

A lot goes into putting on a funeral service - much more than you might think. A typical service consists of getting the first call; this is when the funeral home receives the call that someone’s loved one has passed away. Then we call the family to set up a time for them to come in to make arrangements for the service. During that time, we will get information for the death certificate and obituary. Next, we pick out a casket and an outer burial container. After this, our team starts the paperwork for the death certificate, obituary, casket order, and completing many other necessary things for the service.

So, may I ask the question again: when you think of a mortician, what do you think about? Hopefully it is not death, but instead, you think of a person who helps people through a hard time.

Before you start a career in the funeral industry, I recommend reaching out to someone that could help you get a job in a funeral home as a part-time employee, just so you could see firsthand what it consists of. I was very lucky to have Ms. Fruechtl and her team at Tullahoma High School help me get a job in the funeral home that I work at now. She reached out to the funeral home and helped me get the job; she helped me in any way that I needed help in.

If you are thinking about becoming a funeral director, you can find out more about the job on the website under the board of Funeral Director and Embalmer. 

Haiden Partin is a lifelong resident of Tullahoma, TN, and a 2022 graduate of Tullahoma High School. Haiden is now working for Manchester Funeral Home, Coffee County Funeral Chapel, and Tullahoma Funeral Home as a funeral director and an embalmer apprentice. His goal, after his apprenticeship is complete, is to attend John A. Gupton Mortuary College in Nashville. Haiden is a member of New Life United Pentecostal Church in Tullahoma, where he is a Minister in Training and involved in multiple ministries in the church. Haiden has a very strong passion for helping families through their time of loss. He takes great pride in helping families during an exceedingly difficult time.