TYLER, Texas (KETK) – A partnership between CHRISTUS and Tyler ISD is giving East Texans with disabilities the skills they need to enter the workforce.

Tyler ISD honored its graduating class of eight CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Project SEARCH interns during a socially distanced ceremony Tuesday.

District leaders say this program is so important because it is not only a training opportunity, it measures success in ways you can’t do with a typical test.

“It’s so much more than work experience that we want for students,” Tyler ISD Superintendent Marty Crawford said. “It’s those social interactions, it’s the ability to convey thoughts and to think clearly.”

For Project SEARCH, students rotate through three internships during the school year, gaining skills for competitive employment opportunities in the community.

The partnership started in 2015 and includes Texas Workforce Solutions, Andrews Center and Winning Edge Employment Services. More than 50 graduates have completed the Tyler program since then.

“Many dedicated staff and educators pour their hearts into making this program a success for their students,” Crawford said. “But, the love poured back into them from these students is even more meaningful.”

Project SEARCH graduates include Destiny Bivens, Carter Creed, Anthony Farmer, Kristina Hamill, Madison Rawls, Braylen Seaton, Addison Stone and Lucia Valdez.