ET&T Making a Difference Behind the Scenes


Courtesy - PHS Yearbook

ET&T members showing off their PHS pride.

Riley Rosi

Peninsula High School offers a great variety of programs to students of every kind, and ET&T is one of them.  Though we hear those initials often, very few know what they stand for. Employment Training and Transition is run by teacher Wendy Christiansen. It offers students in the program a chance to learn life skills while performing specific jobs around the school and community.

ET&T has 15 students, who attend a variety of classes such as math, PE, and nutrition.  Along with their scholastics, the group members help with multiple school jobs, ranging from washing tables in the staff room and recycling to helping in the student store, food prep in the kitchen and shopping for the nutrition class.  All of these activities help build the student’s academic skills while preparing them for jobs in the community.

Prior to working in the community, the students have to show that they are ready by completing the many jobs they hold at PHS.  Outside of school, the group helps socialize disabled cats at Harbor Hope Cat Rescue, walks a dog and helps at a local church.

“The community benefits by learning that all people have contributions and have the ability to be valued and are important. As we go out and support students to do jobs in the community, we’re ambassadors for acceptance and inclusion.  The community then sees that we can have different people of all different abilities doing lots of different things; everybody has value,” said Christiansen.

Kelly Jackson is one of 7 para-educators working in the ET&T program. Jackson is one of them. Jackson got started by volunteering in her kids’ classes. She then began subbing as a para-educator and continued with that for nine years.  While subbing for the ET&T program, she realized that she was where she wanted to be, and she was hired as a Vocational Assistant five years ago. Jackson helps students develop life and job skills that will assist them as they move forward.  

“My favorite part of working with the students is seeing them accomplish goals that we have set that we thought were too high for them and seeing them achieve even more.” said Jackson.

All of the students’ activities have academics embedded into them.  When they are counting cookies in the student store, they are working on math, and when they shop for the nutrition class, they use both math and their employability skills .  

Ninth grader Nathalie Bibeau is one of the students in ET&T. She enjoys being at school with her friends and tending to her jobs.  Some of her jobs include helping in the kitchen, where she stocks the milk and juice and also takes care of recycling.  Bibeau participates in taking care of the cats at Harbor Hope Cat Rescue every Monday.

“I like playing with the cats, and I like doing my kitchen job because it’s my favorite one.  I do have a shopping job that I really like too. I also walk Cynder the dog and play with her.” said Bibeau.

In the program there are students with many different communication styles.  Kurt Smith is an 11th grade student that has a hard time communicating verbally, so he uses pictures to help him share thoughts and feelings with his teachers and peers.   Smith enjoys coming to school to see his friends.  He indicated his favorite job at school is washing tables by  pointing to a picture of a table.  Smith also loves leaving school for off campus jobs, he expressed by pointing to a picture of a school van.

Education for ET&T students doesn’t end here at PHS. They move on to the Community Transition Program, which helps students aged 18 to 21 to further their education and build employability skills.  This program offers them a chance to obtain a paid job in the community .

“PHS and our Gig Harbor community is open and accepting. Because of the partnership between our program, the school, and the community, we really have a rich program here and a rich environment, which is really hopeful and exciting.” said Christiansen.