Who We Are
How We Began...
My name is Jess Ballard, and I am a state licensed, master level, cross-categorical special education teacher with over 13 years experience in working with adult group home residents as well as students ranging in ages from 9 through adulthood. I have worked in residential treatment facilities, adult family homes, CBRFs, therapeutic day schools and the public school setting. As a high school cross-categorical special education teacher in Waukesha County, I had the privilege of getting to know and working with many amazing and wonderful young adults and families during my years in education. One thing I began to notice, as I worked with families throughout their students’ high school careers, was a set of questions and concerns that I heard time and time again…at IEP meetings, parent/teacher conferences and open houses…the concerns surrounding that eternal question: “What will we do when school ends? What's next?" For students who were not yet at a place where college or the workforce were independently possible, the horizon beyond high school graduation was a daunting thing to consider. These questions spoke to me and kept me up at night, and I knew that the uncertainty that I felt was nothing compared to what these families and students were feeling. To be perfectly honest, while I could point to a couple of possibilities that might be options for some individuals, for many of my students, I did not have an answer that I truly could feel good about giving.
And so I decided to change that.
TriSkill was originally created to meet the needs of young adults exiting the special education programs that they had been a part of for the vast majority of their lives. Once turning 21, it was apparent to families and students alike that supportive, individualized day program services were difficult to find in the western Waukesha/Walworth County area. I began by researching and visiting various day programs within Waukesha, Walworth and Milwaukee counties in order to determine certain necessary parameters, but more importantly, I came to you – the families and support systems of these young people – asking you – via survey, phone call, email or conversation – what you wanted and needed in a community-based day program.
What we strive to do is combine the educational, therapeutic, social, vocational, artistic and emotional needs for balance, belonging and expression that we all universally share while coming together to continue our learning and journey toward independence. I can promise you that TriSkill will continue to grow and evolve with every new member, and we welcome your questions, ideas and input along the way!