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Co-workers at Madison Hospital selected Blake Shappie, third from right, a graduate of James Clemens High School, as “Employee of the Month.” Congratulating Blake at a Madison Board of Education meeting were Blake’s parents, from left, Mike and Michelle Shappie; Madison Hospital President Mary Lynne Wright; handler Joe Taylor and the hospital’s facility dog, Apple; Blake; Madison Hospital Hospitality Director Kelly Hatley; and Madison City Schools Career Coach Michelle Hyams. CONTRIBUTED

Blake Shappie applies MCS training as ‘Employee of the Month’ at Madison Hospital

MADISON – On Dec. 5, Madison Board of Education congratulated Blake Shappie for his selection as “Employee of the Month” at Madison Hospital, where he works as an Environmental Systems Aid.

A 2022 James Clemens High School graduate, Blake completed a jobs training program led by Michelle Hyams, who then worked as Special Education Jobs Coach/Homebound Instructor for Madison City Schools. Now in her first year as MCS Career Coach, Hyams works at the Central Office in the Curriculum and Instruction Department.

Hyams commended Blake’s determination and called him a bright spot for the MCS Special Education Department. Blake participated in all MCS community-based work programs, including Madison Hospital, Belk at Bridge Street Town Centre, The Westin Huntsville, Huntsville Botanical Garden, Asbury Thrift Store, IHOP, Free2Teach, YMCA and Camber Corporation.

In 2020, MCS created a partnership with Madison Hospital, Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services or ADRS and Phoenix Industries. As exiting seniors, students with disabilities can apply, interview and train with Madison Hospital. Students rotated through Environmental Services, Food Services, Landscape and Wellness Center, Hyams said.

After 30 days, “we built their final resume, set up job interviews and helped them through ADRS secure a position in an area of interest. Blake’s interest happened to be EVS with the hospital. Blake interviewed and was hired immediately,” Hyams said.

“This is one of my job’s best parts — helping those in our community,” Madison Hospital President Mary Lynne Wright said. “The partnership with MCS has been a great one. These students are wonderful. Blake was the very first one we hired.”

Madison Hospital worked with Blake so his schedule meshed with time slots for Madison Assisted Ride Service or MARS.

Usually, a department nominates one of its own; however, a clinical nursing unit nominated Blake. Co-workers easily notice Blake’s work ethic and attitude. The hospital’s 800 employees overwhelmingly chose Blake.

“They’re all so proud of Blake and what he has accomplished. They mentioned the pride he takes in his job,” Wright said.

Blake cleans several high-traffic areas, including the front atrium and hallways. “He absolutely goes above and beyond in what he does,” Wright said. “He’s one of my favorite people. You know where you stand with Blake. He’s so open and honest.”

Blake’s parents are Mike and Michelle Shappie. “They have done an amazing job of giving Blake responsibilities his whole life . . . his independence to schedule appointments; chores at home, inside and outside; trying new jobs; utilizing his phone for calendar/appointments and alarms; preparing his meals; and functioning independently with hobbies, friends and schoolwork,” Hyams said.

Recently, the State Department of Education allocated funds to add job coaches statewide; MCS will add two positions in 2024. A Career Coach is entrusted with helping every student achieve his/her career goal, Hyams said. This awareness begins in elementary grades, broadens in middle school and culminates in high school for the next step: career, technical trade, two- or four-year college or military.

MCS Superintendent Dr. Ed Nichols said the district is proud of Blake and of programs like the one at James Clemens. “Our mission as a school district is that we empower ALL students for global success,” Nichols said.

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