Breaking Ground 96 - Have You Heard? TRC-Smyrna is Changing!

by Patricia C. Wade and Becky Rhea, Tennessee Department of Human Services/Tennessee Rehabilitation Center – Smyrna

It’s true! “The times they are a-changing” certainly applies to the Tennessee Rehabilitation Center (TRC) in Smyrna, and the timing is perfect.  Always focused on finding new and innovative ways to train and put students with disabilities to work, the Center is in the midst of its own “perfect storm” of change. As one of only eight rehabilitation centers in the nation with 40 years of serving individuals with disabilities, TRC-Smyrna’s Administrative staff has had their sights set on the future for some time.

Constantly examining existing programs and services, as well as determining critical components of success, TRC-Smyrna began blazing a trail of change several years ago to improve service delivery, promote self-sufficiency, and increase employment potential for persons with all types of disabilities. The TRC-Smyrna Strategic Plan moves the Center into perfect alignment with the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and federal guidelines around employment programs for persons with disabilities, so the path that is now being taken is indeed headed to new ground, in the right direction.

Approximately one year ago, TRC-Smyrna began performing the groundwork for transition to a Career and Technology Model. The new model will replace the current program design with courses of study that will enable individuals studying at TRC to obtain the skills, certifications and/or credentials needed to succeed in today’s labor market.

Future courses and exciting partnerships

TRC-Smyrna is partnering with CVS Pharmacy to offer a Pharmacy Tech program.  The program will be 19 weeks and include two sections of training. The first section covers Store Front (Customer Care), in which students will be introduced to the general functions and services of a CVS Pharmacy, including store layout, safety- related and store-specific policies, and retail-specific customer service skills and merchandising responsibilities. The second section, the Pharmacy Tech Program, is offered to students who have completed the Store Front training. Pharmacy Tech students will be trained to support pharmacological services by learning the basic pharmacy operation, layout, inventory management and prescription medication measurements. Upon completion of both Phase I and II, the student will receive a National Certification as a Pharmacy Technician.

The Certified Production Technician program will soon be added to the list of available programs at TRC-Smyrna. This program is in addition to the current Warehouse and Logistics program and is offered in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Tennessee College of Applied Technology Murfreesboro, and the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce Manufacturing Council. A student completing the expanded manufacturing program may earn a maximum of six industry certifications in three different training areas: ACT National Career Readiness Certificate; OSHA 10 Hour General Safety Course Certificate; Manufacturing Skills Standards Council/Certified Production Technician Certificate in Safety, Quality Practice and Measurement, Manufacturing Processes and Production, and Maintenance Awareness.

Leaders of the future

TRC-Smyrna is also preparing students through the Student Leadership Academy, Student Government and the Student Ambassador program.

The Student Leadership Academy provides a nine-week series of classes that include training in essential leadership skills such as communication styles; active listening; how to respond and/or react to a variety of employee situations; feelings and choices; teamwork; incorporating diversity; and the difference between facts and opinions.

The Student Council is a representative structure for students to engage and participate as involved partners at TRC-Smyrna. The student body elects a President, Vice President, Sergeant-at-Arms and five Executive Board Members to represent them in all aspects of campus life. They also assist faculty by providing suggestions and recommendations for improvements. The elections are held three times a year after each quarter. Meetings are held once a month with the student body and faculty. The Rutherford County Election Commission works with TRC-Smyrna to provide voting machines on the day of the election to introduce students to the actual election and voting process.

The Student Ambassador program provides peer support to new students on campus. Students are selected through an application process and complete training regarding strategies for providing peer assistance prior to becoming a designated Ambassador.

To the future

Transformation is underway and it will not only impact the way TRC-Smyrna has operated for the past 40 years, but will bring about positive change. Each step we take to provide quality services and supports to individuals with disabilities, we are contributing not only to one individual, but to the total welfare and socio-economic status of generations to come.

Located 25 miles south of Nashville, TRC-Smyrna is a state-operated comprehensive residential rehabilitation center serving clients of the Tennessee Department of Human Services, Division of Rehabilitation Services from all 95 counties of the state. TRC-Smyrna guided tours are available. For more information, contact TRC-Smyrna at 615-459-6811.

Patricia is the Accreditation Coordinator at TRC-Smyrna. Becky is the TRC Outreach Services Administrator.