Shawnee Mission School District and Shawnee Mission Health Partner to Help Students with Disabilities

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Shawnee Mission Health and the Shawnee Mission School District (SMSD) have partnered to offer a unique, school-to-work transition program called Project SEARCH. The program helps students who have disabilities establish the necessary skills to obtain paid employment.

Project SEARCH is the first program of its kind in Johnson County to serve students who are still eligible for school-based services. The program involves an extensive period of training, career exploration, innovative adaptations and job coaching, along with continuous guidance from an instructor, skills trainers and employers.

"Students have the opportunity for three internships within the hospital setting," said Jackie Chatman, director of SMSD’s Special Education department. “We focus on communication, problem-solving skills, and how to work in a team to help prepare them for the workplace.”

Students attend the program for a full school year at Shawnee Mission Health. The site is staffed by an SMSD instructor and two job-skills trainers. This allows students the opportunity to work internships while still participating in lessons designed around team building, navigating the workplace, workplace safety, technology, social and communication skills, presentation skills, interviewing skills, money management, health and wellness, job search skills and maintaining employment.

“We are excited about the partnership with Shawnee Mission School District and the opportunity to give students with disabilities to the chance to learn, grow and gain job skills in order to successfully enter the workplace." says Amy Milroy, director of the Lee Ann Britain Center for children with special needs at Shawnee Mission Health. “This year’s interns are already an asset to the departments they’re working with and have become an integral part of the Shawnee Mission Health culture.”

About Shawnee Mission Health Shawnee Mission Health (SMH) includes Shawnee Mission Medical Center (SMMC) in Merriam, Kan., a 504-bed facility with more than 22,000 inpatient admissions and more than 200,000 outpatient admissions annually; SMH – Prairie Star; SMH – Overland Park, Centra Care Shawnee Mission Urgent Care and physician practices located throughout Johnson and Leavenworth Counties. SMH is the only certified member of MD Anderson Cancer Network®, a program of MD Anderson Cancer Center, in Kansas City. SMH employs more than 3,200 local residents and supports an exceptional staff of nearly 700 physicians. SMH is part of Adventist Health System (AHS), the largest not-for-profit, Protestant health care organization in the nation. SMH and all of AHS will soon be AdventHealth. Visit us online at

Shawnee Mission School District is the third-largest school district in Kansas with more than 27,000 students and 4,300 employees. The district contains 34 elementary schools, five middle schools and five high schools. It also includes Horizons High School, an Early Childhood Education Center, and Signature Programs at the Center for Academic Achievement. It’s been consistently ranked among the finest school districts nationwide for its high student performance. The district serves a diverse student population from 14 cities within northeast Johnson County, Kansas, which is 10 miles from downtown Kansas City, Missouri. For more information, visit

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