Special-needs kids learn job fashion

SOT student Tiffany Carter, center, shows off her outfit during the Dress to Impress fashion show at the Linda Nolen Learning Center in Pelham on April 17. Carter was one of the students who purposefully dressed casually in order to show the students how not to dress for an interview. (Reporter Photo/Jon Goering)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

The more than 50 special-needs students with the Linda Nolen Learning Center and the Shelby County Special Services Center gathered in the LNLC cafeteria were quick to share their thoughts on the attire of those in the school’s first career fashion show.

“Nobody wants to walk into a restaurant and see some boy’s pants sagging,” LNLC student David Barrett said of one of the fashion show participants.

“He looks like a businessman,” another LNLC student said of fashion show participant Blayze Burnett, who was clad in a suit and tie.

During the “Dress to Impress” career fashion show, which was held April 17, Shelby County School of Technology students displayed what to wear – and what not to wear – to a job interview.

“You can talk about how to dress and read it on paper, but it’s good for them to get a visual,” said Shelby County School System job coach Cindy Vinson. “We all do better when it’s hands-on.”

The career fashion show came a few weeks before the special-needs students were scheduled to hold mock job interviews at the Special Services Center’s Growing Place learning cottage on the LNLC campus.

The fashion show featured 13 School of Technology students dressed in everything from formal business suits to sagging jeans and T-shirts. After each SOT student displayed their attire to the special-needs students, the students categorized them as either interview-ready or interview-inappropriate.

Sheila Pate, who wore black dress pants and a button-up pink shirt, was declared ready to interview, and Tiffany Carter, who wore a T-shirt and jeans, was declared inappropriately dressed for a job interview.

Charity Hughes wore a white, green and yellow dress with a white sweater, and was declared interview-ready. As was Tyler King, who wore a black suit, blue dress shirt and a yellow tie.

“You see how these men and ladies are dressed,” Vinson told the students gathered in the cafeteria. “When you show up for your mock interviews, you need to remember how to dress and not to dress.”

Throughout the year, Special Services Center students have been learning about job skills and proper workplace hygiene, and have worked to manage The Growing Place’s greenhouse project.

“I think the kids really enjoyed today – both the special learners and the School of Technology students,” Vinson said.