Del Val’s newest program is “FIERCE”



Del Val’s FIERCE is active in the community helping students learn about life after high school

Avery Fitz and Sadie Swanson

Del Val’s new version of its work transition program, FIERCE, is one of the school’s new offerings this year.

Nanette Elder, DVRHS Special Education teacher, had been trying to bring the FIERCE program to life for a long time. This year her dream program became a reality. 

Elder originally got the idea for the program from someone working for the Transition Coordinator of NJ, an organization that she is a member of. Elder met a woman who ran a similar program and found it amazing. She became determined to bring a program like that to Del Val.

Elder chose the name FIERCE for the program: Focus on Independence, Employment, Resources and Community Exploration.

Del Val’s “Super Seniors,” Theo Baransky, Grace Husek and Logan Walker, are all members of the newly founded FIERCE program.

FIERCE is primarily offered to Super Seniors; Super Seniors are students that have already completed their high school education requirements, but are entitled to staying in school until they are 21 years old. 

This program helps Del Val’s students who have special needs learn how to do different tasks: they go grocery shopping for the week, go out to eat, take job tours and visit different businesses to see what it would be like to work there.

All of these skills help prepare these students for their future that lies outside of Del Val.

Even though this program is new to Del Val, Elder is already beginning to see changes in the students.

“They just excel at their jobs, and don’t get tired of doing it” said Elder.

For these students, FIERCE isn’t just a simple program or class; it’s a way they can see their friends every day and meet new people at work. They often help out to see what they can do when they leave Del Val. 

Elder had tried introducing this program at Del Val earlier, but when Covid-19 hit the U.S. and schools had to shut down, it was hard to start it up.

“Mrs. Elder had a work program before the pandemic. This is sort of like a reboot of it, but even better,” Baransky said.

“We agree,” Husek and Walker said.

During the pandemic, students had done job tours online, but the students found it challenging. When schools opened back up more fully this September, they slowly eased into the newly founded FIERCE program.

Elder gets help to keep this program up and running from her fellow Special Education teachers at Del Val: Allie DiLorenzo Breithoff, Collette LeBoeuf, Linda McIntyre, Joe Donnelly, Barb DiLorenzo, Allie Polakowski, and Jen DeWire.

The members of FIERCE want everyone to know that they have an Instagram page: @dv_fierce. Grace, Theo, and Logan love having an Instagram where they can be featured and would be thrilled if you followed them.

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  • Christian enjoyed his visit to Frenchtown Pharmacy.

  • Jason was busy filling his cart up at the supermarket.

  • Jeff and Ms. Elder have been enjoying their first year as part of FIERCE.

  • FIERCE was excited to visit Phillips Farm to see all of the fresh fruits and vegetables.

  • Jeff’s trip to Frenchtown included a stop at Early Bird.

  • Stephen is well on his way to becoming a baker!

  • Christian is very proud of his work that he does with FIERCE.

  • The FIERCE team visited Shop Rite, one of the many businesses that teams up with FIERCE to help our students learn.

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