ESC 12 working to help smooth post-school transition for those with disabilities

By Jennifer Marshall-Higgins

The transition from high school to beyond can be challenging for any student. For students with disabilities this step can feel overwhelming without the proper support and resources.

Disabilities a range of challenges from dyslexia to language processing disorders to dysgraphia.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, about 33% of all students identify as having a disability that adversely affects their performance in the classroom. That’s more than 7 million students. Education Service Center Region 12 and partners will host a Transition Fair for students (grades 8-12) with disabilities 6-8 pm, Sept 20.

Without support, access to resources and guidance on advocating for oneself, it can be challenging to navigate a world that may feel inaccessible for students with a disability, be it a physical, intellectual, or learning disability. The Transition Fair’s theme is “Let your Light Shine” as it aims to bridge the gap between high school and life after school for students of all abilities. The goal is to ease the apprehension of students and their families.

Participants will learn about community resources to support their transition, career and college opportunities, training opportunities, options for independent living, guardianship and alternatives, and how to apply for certain benefits.

“Our goal is to connect students, families and school staff with service providers to facilitate success for students once they graduate from high school–something that will impact their quality of life and how they can contribute to society,” said Monica Johnson, education specialist for ESC Region 12.

The free event will take place from 6-8 p.m. on Sept. 20 at 2101 W Loop 340 in Waco. Participants are encouraged to pre-register at

The event will include several partners, including Heart of Texas Behavioral Health Network, which provides accessible, caring and responsive support services to individuals and families coping with mental illness, intellectual and developmental disabilities, developmental delays, and emotional conflict. Additional partners include Texas Parent to Parent, Texas Workforce Commission, Communities in Schools, Heart of Central Texas Independent Living Center (HOCTIL), and Texas Able, all dedicated to the prosperity of Texas students with disabilities and their families.

Agencies on-site during the event are as follows:

  • ARC of McLennan County
  • Baylor Accommodations
  • Burgett Law Firm, PLLC Estate Planning Law Firm
  • Communities In Schools
  • Communities In Schools of the Heart of Texas – Workforce Program 
  • Focus Behavioral Associates
  • Heart of Texas Behavioral Health Network
  • Oceans Behavioral Hospital
  • Sandy Hardy-Smith, Imagine Enterprises
  • Superior Health Plan
  • Texas Able
  • Texas Parent to Parent
  • Texas STAR Plus
  • Texas Workforce Solutions
  • Texas Workforce Solutions – Vocation Rehabilitation Services
  • United Health Care Dental Services
  • Waco Mayor’s Committee for People with Disabilities

Jennifer Marshall-Higgins is director of customer & marketing support with Education Service Center Region 12. ESC Region 12 helps schools save money and leverage resources into the classroom. One of 20 regional service centers statewide, ESC Region 12 offers training and expert assistance to educators and school personnel to increase student achievement. ESC Region 12 offers effective, economical programs and services through professional development, expert assistance, direct services and alternative educator certification. Based in Waco, ESC Region 12 serves 77 school districts, 10 charters and private/parochial schools in Bell, Bosque, Coryell, Falls, Freestone, Hamilton, Hill, Lampasas, Limestone, McLennan, Mills and Navarro counties.