Life Work Center

Brooker Building


Deb Goodman, Special Education Teacher

Stacy Johnstone, Special Education Teacher and Work Coordinator

Barry Roles, Special Education Teacher

Angela Schroer, School Psychologist

Amber Stumne, School Nurse


The Life Work Center (LWC) is a school-based employment and independent living skills program for 18-21 year olds who have not yet met their IEP goals and need additional teacher support to do so. The program is located on the North Branch Area Public Schools Campus and serves the school districts of Chisago Lakes, North Branch, and Rush City. The program focuses on the goals and objectives needed by the students to transition to adult life. This program follows the North Branch Area Public Schools calendar. Refer to the NBAPS Student Handbook for calendar, details, procedures and policy information.

  • Home Living includes skills required to manage a home, choosing a place to live, financial planning, meal planning, housekeeping and home safety.
  • Community Participation is the development of skills that allow for formal or informal participation in social, civic, spiritual and emotional relationships. Sites served by The LWC include: Ecumen, Wild River State Park, Hazelden/Betty Ford, Family Pathways, SNAP Fitness, Adopt-AHighway.
  • Recreation and Leisure is the development of skills that allow an individual to engage in personal and social activities that are for fun and relaxation.
  • Post Secondary Training is the development of a personal plan to prepare an individual for his/her continuing education needs upon graduation from The LWC.
  • Jobs and Job Training is the development of functional work skills, assessment, planning and instructional activities related to career awareness, career exploration and skill development. Independent hands-on training occurs in The LWC PAES (Practical Assessment Exploration System) lab.
  • Project Discovery Hands on curricula approved and validated by the US Department of Education to promote career development, skills training and life long learning.

programming spotlight:

Practical Assessment Exploration System (PAES) Lab

PAES is a comprehensive curriculum that provides exploration, training, and assessment through hands-on experience, in a simulated work environment, while learning important career/vocational and life skills. Skills are taught in a systematic format that helps students become more independent. PAES determines students’ interest in specific work areas, competitiveness with peers, and assesses present barriers to future success, and then helps change them to positive work behaviors. The PAES curriculum works in five career areas: Business/Marketing, Construction/Industrial, Consumer/Service, Processing/Production, and Computer/Technology. Participation in over 250 activities provides data that is used for school-to-work transition plans.

frequently asked questions

What are the criteria for enrolling in the transition program at the Life Work Center?

  • Student must be on an IEP
  • Student must have completed their 12th grade year of high school and met their resident district graduation credits
  • Student must have continuing needs in the areas of transition

How many credits will a student earn at the LWC?

  • None. The Life Work Center is not a credit recoupment program.
  • All students entering the Life Work Center will have completed their 12th grade year of school and met Minnesota high school credit requirements. (Chisago Lakes: 29 cr, North Branch: 74 cr, Rush City: 21.5 cr)

If I enroll at the LWC when do I get my diploma?

  • Students intending to enroll in transition programming like the LWC are allowed to walk through commencement with their peer group at the end of their 12th grade year but are not allowed to accept a diploma. This is a Minnesota Department of Education rule.
  • Diplomas will be awarded at the end of transition programming based on a decision made by the special education team and IEP requirements.
  • Per MDE (11/2016): Students who continue to receive secondary education services, including special education services, who are in transition programs are still considered students. The date on their diploma should be the date the district has determined they have met the state and local requirements for high school graduation and/or goals/objectives in that student’s individualized education program (IEP) . These factors should be used to determine whether he or she receives a diploma.

Will I receive a diploma from my own high school?

  • Yes - if you completed your 12th grade year at Chisago, North Branch or Rush City - that is the diploma you will receive when graduating from the Life Work Center
  • If you completed your 12th grade year at any other high school and attended the LWC, you will receive a ‘North Branch’ diploma.
  • Diplomas will be dated June of the school year the student leaves transition programming. NOT the year they completed 12th grade.

How many years do I have to attend the Life Work Center?

  • Students with continuing special education needs are eligible for transition programming through the school year in which they turn age 21.
  • Continued enrollment and graduation considerations will be reviewed on an annual basis at the IEP meeting.

Can I walk through commencement with my high school graduating class and attend the senior class social celebration?

  • Students planning to attend the LWC can walk commencement and attend Senior class socials provided they have met all expected credit requirements and have the consent of high school administration and the special education team.

How do I enroll in the Life Work Center?

  • Life Work Center staff become part of your special education team beginning in your junior year. Transition meetings will be held at the Life Work Center in the spring of your senior year. At this time, enrollment paperwork will be explained.

What if I need transition services but am also considering taking some college classes?

  • Working collaboratively with your Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor and the Life Work Center it is possible to build a schedule that allows for a combination of both programs.

How will I get to the Life Work Center?

  • Transportation will be coordinated through your home school district.

What does the lunch program look like at the LWC?

  • The Life Work Center does not have full kitchen facilities. Bag lunches can be ordered one day in advance otherwise students are responsible for bringing a lunch from home each day. Microwave ovens and refrigerators are available for your convenience. The LWC has a ‘closed campus’ policy - meaning, students may not leave campus for lunch.

Will the LWC help me find a job?

  • The LWC is a skill building program, not a job placement program.
  • The LWC will support students initiating independent job searches as best as possible.
  • The LWC will ensure that all students are connected with the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation during their 2nd to last year of transition programming.

Kelly Detzler, Principal

38432 Lincoln Trail, North Branch, MN 55056

Phone: 651-674-1016