LEAP is an innovative, non-degree program designed for students who want to strengthen their overall life skills in order to achieve independence. Applicants may be high school graduates or individuals who could benefit from job readiness training, life skill development, and scholastic support. The goal of this program is to produce independent young adults by helping them improve their job-related, social/ emotional, and communications skills.
In LEAP, individuals are guided to set realistic, attainable goals as they develop a personal plan for living. LEAP fosters relationships with local businesses to help participants gain real-life job experience with the aim of obtaining employment upon completion of the program. Students join LEAP having graduated from private and public schools throughout the Atlanta metro area. Current students have a wide variety of skill sets and needs. LEAP evaluates each participant’s specific skills and needs in order to help them create a plan for future success.
Along with on-the-job training, LEAP participants attend classes on a daily basis. The classes that are offered allow students to further their education by developing important and necessary life, interpersonal, and daily living skills. Classroom instruction is from 12:45 – 2:30 for the full day program and 11:30 – 12:15 for the half day. The low student-to-teacher ratio allows personalized attention in the classroom and on the work sites. The classes cover aspects of personal finance, computer essentials, social skills, communication, and independent living.
Tuition and Calendar
LEAP has full day and half day programs that operate on either a semester or school year basis. Summer sessions are also available. LEAP programs follow Eaton Academy’s academic year calendar, with first semester running August through December and second semester January through May. The summer sessions are offered for three weeks in June and three weeks in July.
- Tuition for the full day program (9:00 – 2:30) is $26,000.00 August through May.
- Tuition for the half day program (9:00 – 12:15) is $13,000.00 August through May.
- Tuition for semester programs is 50% of the full year’s amount.
- LEAP is a service provider for Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Association, and applicants who receive services are eligible for financial assistance through GVRA.
A prime component of the LEAP program is on-site work experiences. Elements of job readiness and training are developed throughout the day. Students are taught how to create resumes, apply for jobs, and strengthen communication skills. The program facilitates practical job skills by arranging for off-site work experiences at local business establishments. LEAP partners with businesses in several different industries, including retail stores, restaurants, automotive repair, professional offices, and non-profit organizations. LEAP will continue to add business partnerships in order to offer an ever-widening variety of work sites that ensure a comprehensive training program for our participants.
Participants intern at various job sites during the week from 9:00 am – 12:15 pm daily. LEAP staff perform job coaching, instructional support, and provide constructive criticism at the job sites. Staff encourage participants to provide customer service at each job site and guide them on how to effectively do so. In addition, they model proper workplace behaviors and instruct participants on how to execute specific tasks.
It is a goal for LEAP to help participants identify personal strengths as well as areas needing improvement. Staff link these strengths to specific jobs that are appropriate for the participants. With staff assistance, participants create a resume, complete applications, and apply to jobs both online and in person. LEAP teaches proper workplace attire and performs mock interviews with each participant. For each participant, LEAP strives to provide a comprehensive job training program that greatly improves overall chances for obtaining and sustaining employment.
- LEAP staff provide instruction and overall support on each job site and maintain a 5:1 participant-to-teacher ratio.
- LEAP links participants’ strengths and interests with appropriate job sites.
- LEAP partners with local businesses in several different industries, which could ultimately lead to employment.
One of the most important elements of LEAP is the implementation of social skills training. Proper social skills are necessary to gain employment, make friends, and develop social relationships. LEAP employs a social skills curriculum that is taught in the classroom as well as on all of the work sites. LEAP utilizes role-play scenarios and techniques to teach situational social skills such as proper body language, greetings, eye contact, shaking hands, using people’s names when speaking to them, saying please and thank you, waiting one’s turn to speak, asking for assistance when needed, giving and receiving constructive criticism, and expressing feelings.
- Staff provides direct feedback in social situations and offers appropriate constructive criticism.
- Social skills are modeled by staff and practiced by participants in class and on work sites daily.
- Participants are encouraged to plan outings and get-togethers outside of the school day.
Participants who join LEAP can expect to develop specific skills needed to live productively on their own. Instruction is provided in personal finance, shopping, meal planning, cooking, cleaning, and hygiene.
Participants utilize the Dave Ramsey student edition workbooks to learn about per-sonal finance. Staff helps them create a weekly and monthly budget by categorizing expenses and illustrating the importance of staying within their budget.
Staff members take participants to Kroger and assist them with making a grocery list, working within a budget, shopping for items, using coupons, and selecting the best values.
Students are taught how to plan nutrious breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus for the week.
Staff demonstrate proper culinary skills and instruct participants how to cook everyday dishes. In our kitchens, participants bake, boil, sauté, and fry meals that have been planned with grocery items purchased during store outings.
Participants use appropriate cleansers to use on each surface and are responsible for cleaning up after their meals.
Staff discusses and implements dress codes for work sites and the classroom. Proper grooming, applying deodorant, brushing hair and teeth, and selecting appropriate clothing are addressed.
- Staff teach all aspects of personal finance, including budgeting, using debit cards, and shopping.
- Participants plan, shop, and cook meals with staff assistance.
- Staff discuss and require compliance with personal hygiene standards.
LEAP Living participants share a two, or three bedroom apartment with others in the program. The apartment complex is located close to Eaton Academy and its residents are not limited to LEAP students. The program is designed so that participants feel as integrated into society as possible. Leases for each apartment are executed by parents. Some residents attend LEAP morning sessions so that they can work on real job sites and in the classroom in order to receive proper training. LEAP staff members have experience working with individuals with learning and developmental disabilities; some staff have advanced degrees in counseling. LEAP Life residents receive guidance and instruction in the independent living areas listed below. LEAP staff focus on the following living skills at the students’ apartment on a rotating daily basis.
Household Cleaning & Laundry
Residents clean living rooms, dining rooms, kitchens, bathrooms, and bedrooms. They use appropriate cleaners for each surface and demonstrate knowledge of how to use different cleansers. Washing dishes by hand and skills for using the dishwasher are taught. LEAP staff instruct participants how to use washing machines and dryers in order to clean their own clothes.
Personal Hygiene & Care
Staff work with residents on how to maintain good personal hygiene. Participants are expected to properly shower daily, comb hair, brush teeth, and apply deodorant. Those who take medicine will work with staff members to develop an affective system to track medication per parents’ instruction.
LEAP staff work with the students to help them budget for groceries, personal expenses, recreation, personal hygiene, and transportation expenses. Staff assist participants in tracking their banking, paying utilities and creating accurate monthly budgets to follow. Staff instruct participants on how to use the envelope system, as well as adhering to the Dave Ramsey program.
Shopping & Cooking
LEAP staff assist participants in planning meals and shopping lists. They are taught how to buy on a budget; select sale items; and utilize coupons to keep costs down. Staff shop with participants and guide them on proper foods to buy. LEAP staff instruct residents on how to prepare meals at their apartments. Different cooking techniques are explained as is how to use the oven, stovetop, and microwave. Participants are shown how to make breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. The goal is for them to learn how to make complete meals using fresh ingredients and not just frozen microwaveable meals.
Job Readiness & Supported Employment
LEAP staff work with participants on job interview skills, job searches, and resume writing in order to help them obtain a paying job. Those who have a job receive counseling and support from LEAP to maintain employment.
LEAP staff instruct participants on how to use, and accompany them on, public transportation. Staff assist students with learning the local establishments, shopping centers, and transportation options.
LEAP staff assist in organizing social outings for LEAP Living residents, as well as LEAP participants. Outings include bowling, going to the movies, going to dinner, and going to sporting events. Staff also encourage residents to make plans on their own with other residents and LEAP participants.
Praise for Eaton Academy’s LEAP Program
I greatly enjoyed the LEAP trivia night! I was so impressed by the LEAP students and their knowledge. I was also very impressed that the owner of Eaton came and stayed for the whole event. Staff members Mr. Fix and Mr. Burdett along with the other parents who attended made me realize that passionate people can do anything and that these wonderful students are the beneficiaries of Eaton’s commitment. Genuine thanks to each of you.
LEAP helped my daughter tremendously. It provided her with valuable work experience, strengthened her confidence, and gave her that spark back. She learned a great deal from her internship experiences and classroom instruction. We have seen a positive change in her attitude, social life, and overall spirit. We are very grateful for finding this program.
LEAP gives my son a wonderful opportunity for job exposure through its internship. He experiences a variety of work environments and tasks, and gains valuable knowledge and skills for real life work. He also developed invaluable friendships and a sense of belonging both at LEAP and his workplaces. It is a joy to see my son go through these important phases in life with the support LEAP provides.