Envision Success Project: What makes Polus Center unique?

Photo of smiling man with dark hair, short beard and glasses.

Ben Chase, a former ESP student who went on to earn a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work and was recently accepted into Salem State’s advanced standing MSW program.

While encompassing the five basic tenants of Pre-ETS, the Polus Center’s program, which we call the Envision Success Project (ESP), incorporates our person-centered guiding principles by creating both individualized and group experiences for students that are based on their interests, needs, and unique and changing circumstances. We grow with the student, recognizing where they are in their adolescent journey as a student, future job seeker and employee, and teenager who is blind or low vision.

Our diverse staff and consultant pool of Subject Matter Experts includes people who are blind and low vision themselves, Special Education teachers, assistive technology experts, and career counselors with years of experience in workforce training in a wide range of industries. We have been members of the Executive Committee of a MassHire Workforce board for over 20 years.

We offer a variety of choices that meet students where they are, whether it’s short, focused seminars for students who need that type of structure or high-level discussions with college professors, entry-level first job experiences or structured internships focused on a specific career interest. We start where the student is and help them go from there!

The opportunities I’ve had through the Polus had such a positive impact on my life and I’m so grateful. The internship I did at MHA in Springfield specifically helped me land my social work practicum at Boston Medical Center. I do behavioral health case management in the complex care case management program. My supervisor has only taken one Social Work intern in the past, and she said she was not going to accept interns after the first one. My experience at MHA, plus my interviewing skills, won her over and she changed her mind. ESP helped opened this door for me, and I will never forget that!

– Ben Chase

ESP activities are offered both remotely and in-person. While the primary purpose might be thinking ahead to potential career pathways, the skills learned are applicable to all aspects of a student’s life, such as:

  • Building emotional intelligence, friendships, and social relationships
  • Developing work readiness skills such as problem-solving, taking initiative and responsibility, and being accountable
  • Exploring their identity as a person with a disability
  • Developing independence while learning to advocate for support
  • Addressing the general challenges of adolescence.

Becoming a member of ESP entitles high school students to any of our services. A student does not need to sign up for all of them but can take advantage of any that fit their current interests. We stay in regular communication with students and their parents, MCB Counselor and their other supporters as much as possible such as TVIs and O&M instructors to ensure that our services complement others they are receiving.