Richard loves teaching students with disabilities important work skills

Richard Alley, career advisor, wears a plaid shirt and is in front of the classroom with teaching items. He is smiiing at the camera.

Richard Alley could not wait to get to work. It took him years to find something that makes him this happy. He explored different career options – the military, truck driving, construction, retail management, and even being a DJ. But after a period of unemployment due to physical and mental health he discovered career advising. While working with his own career advisor through Vocational Rehab, he said to his advisor, “You have a cool job. How can I do what you do?” That was how he found his way to Goodwill three years ago.

Now, as a career advisor and teacher to high school students with disabilities, no two days were alike. Richard works at a program called “Bootcamp.” It is a Vocational Rehabilitation program that teaches both soft and hard skills to get students workforce-ready. For many young adults who have disabilities, the transition from high school to the workforce can be a challenge. Bootcamp helps ease that transition.

Many people think of Richard more as a cheerleader than a teacher with his infectious smile and a “can-do” attitude.

At Goodwill, he found fulfillment in his work and a supportive team. He works in various schools throughout Maine, teaching students with disabilities about life skills and career options. With his vast knowledge and experience, he offers an understanding and empathic ear. He is also their cheerleader.

Richard encourages open-mindedness and seeking help during challenging times, emphasizing the importance of adaptability, empathy, and enthusiasm.

“Being a Bootcamp Career Advisor is more than teaching a curriculum. It’s tapping into the students’ needs and desires; helping them overcome barriers. Not just for employment, but for life.”

While Richard travels to different classrooms throughout central and coastal Maine, he is a consistent, steady model with the students. The Bootcamp classroom is a place where the students can be safe and build trust with their peers. He watched students show amazing growth. Students who had struggled in the past would start to improve their grades as well as their confidence.

Richard believes in genuine, honest, and caring interactions. He views his role not as a job but as something he enjoys, finding joy in students’ growth and success. “At the end of the day, I know work/life balance is important and it’s good to turn things off, but I’m so excited to share with my family, my experiences and they’re encouraging. It’s been a life-changer for me.”

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