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Hampton educational experience that’s right on Target

November 12, 2018

Big box store Target turned into a unique, out-of-the-box educational opportunity for a group of Hampton students earlier this month.

Hampton’s ninth- and 10th-grade special education students took the trip as part of this year’s Disability Mentoring Day, which annually takes place the third Wednesday of October, according to Amy Faith, special education teacher at Hampton High School.

The international event is hosted by the American Association of People with Disabilities in collaboration with the Office of Disability Employment Policy, according to the www.disabilitymentoringday.org.

October is also National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

“Community field trips to local businesses are important because they teach students about the world of work through hands-on exploration. These trips are especially important for students with disabilities who may feel limited in their career options or unaware of what is out there. In addition, we can see what employers are looking for and try to incorporate these skills into the classroom,” Faith said.

This year’s trip resulted in a fun and educational trip to a local Target, though it wasn’t initially planned that way.

Hampton previously signed up through the Allegheny Intermediate Unit which works with Bender Consulting Services Inc. in Pittsburgh to place local school districts with participating businesses, she said. Last year, they went to the Allegheny County Courthouse and the year before that it was to the PNC First Side Center.

However, this year it almost didn’t happen. The AIU said due to overwhelming response from area districts, they couldn’t accommodate Hampton’s request, but promised a spot in 2019, she said.

Faith said they were thinking of cancelling the field trip, but with permission slips already signed and transportation already funded through Hampton School District, they found an alternative after Faith’s father, Dan Baumann, suggested Target.

Baumann is a store team leader at the North Huntingdon site, but he suggested somewhere more local, which brought them to the Target location in Gibsonia.

Cindy Novotny, is not only store team leader of that site, but also a 2001 Hampton graduate, something they discovered on their tour, making the trip even more special to the students, said Faith.

“Target is extremely passionate about the community,” said Novotny, whose maiden name was Smiddle.

The students took a tour of the store, including the back room to view the shipping process, said Novotny, noting they ship approximately 1,000 orders per day.

They also saw how the cash registers work and had a question-and-answer session with Target team members. Faith said she worked with a Target executive team leader and Target human resources representative to create a plan for the day, even rearranging schedules on short notice.

Students were given the opportunity to make their own pizza for lunch and were given a Target “swag bag” filled with Target gear--a pen, highlighter, Target’s stuffed dog “Spot,” and sunglasses.

Novotny said the students definitely liked visiting the electronics portion of the store and viewing the Halloween seasonal decor.

Faith added “students seemed to enjoy practicing their cashiering skills and learning how Target handles theft the most.”

This includes Liam Wallace, of ninth grade, who said, “I liked checking out a movie at the cash register.”

Fellow freshman Jacob Hilliard agreed. “It was fun. I liked learning how to scan items at the cash register.”

Overall, the experience is worthwhile.

“On these trips, students are exposed to a variety of positions within a business, and gives them an idea of how much of a team effort it is to make a business run smoothly,” said Faith.

Also on the trip were paraprofessional Rochelle Hahn, Hampton emotional support teacher Mike Zdinak, and a substitute school nurse, said Faith.

Novotny, who has been with the Target corporation for more than 12 years, said they also do other community outreach such as volunteer efforts at St. Barnabas nursing home in Gibsonia.

“We’re very passionate about our community. This is why Target is what it is. We’d love to do it again,” she said.

Faith added that it was Target which awarded her a “Take Charge of Education” grant. She used the money to take students to the Mock Interview and Employment Fair that is held each spring at the AIU and to pay for their lunches.

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