For the past two school years, Hannah Hartman has been building up her work and communication skills. Once a week, Hannah, who is nonverbal, heads her job at Mercy Fairfield Hospital’s central district supply room with Rita Kortekamp, an instructor assistant at Margaret B. Rost School.
“Hannah has her own ID and checks in at the volunteer office,” Kortekamp said. “She stocks supplies for the hospital such as lotions or deodorant for two hours each week. You can set her up with items to work on and she’s able to place those items in a box independently for a while.”
When teachers first began talking about Hannah getting a job, her mom, Jenny Hartman, was a bit skeptical because Hannah typically prefers socializing to working.
“I was nervous about her going,” Hartman said. “I didn’t think it would be something she’d be successful at, but how would we know if we don’t try?”
Though Hannah can’t tell her mom how the job is going, Hartman said she can tell her daughter is proud of herself. “I think it’s wonderful she has a job,” she said. “This year we had some rough patches and are trying to find the sweet spot between providing so much assistance and being independent.”
Kortekamp added that Hannah is always friendly and social with the other people in the supply room, communicating through sign language and other ways.
“She enjoys the staff, and the people who work there are friendly and nurturing,” she said. “They like Hannah being there, and they are helpful and involved with her work.”
Jenny Hartman said having the right support team in place is critical to Hannah’s success at work. “The way I look at it, if Hannah wasn’t doing the job, someone else would have to do it,” she said. “For the people she works with, it’s important for them to see that people with disabilities can work, they can have an impact and they can contribute.”
In the video below, Jenny Hartman, sitting with Hannah, talks more about making the transition to work.