Community Based Training (CBT)

Ingraham’s Community Based Training Program

The goal of Ingraham’s Community Based Training (CBT) program is to prepare students with disabilities for life after high school. We hope to give students a wide range of real-world experiences, vocational instruction, and social skills training. Each day we gently but persistently push our students towards independence, and we ultimately hope that every student in our department will leave Ingraham with an elevated sense of self-worth and an ability to determine their own future through self-advocacy. There are seven classrooms under the umbrella of the CBT program: two moderate/severe, two dyspraxic, two generic, and one autism spectrum (all of these classrooms are designated as low incidence). Depending on their needs, students in our department typically spend a portion of the day working on vocational and life skills, and many also take a variety of both academic and elective classes, which could include American government, creative writing, swimming, choir, or even classes including construction, baking, or modified film making. Students in the CBT program who take these courses move from classroom to classroom much like any high school student would but within the CBT program. Additionally, some students seamlessly move from special education to regular education classes several times during the day.

Academic Instruction

Core academic subjects (language arts, math, social studies, and science) are taught in a style that is specifically geared towards the individual student’s learning style. All of the academic subjects are taught in parallel to the general education curriculum. Students who are able to participate in regular education classes (and special education classes outside of our department) are encouraged to do so and provided with support. 

Vocational Exploration

In a typical year (Pre-COVID), many of our students participate in vocational training on a weekly (if not daily) basis. Typically, as students move into higher grades and especially in the 18 to 21-year age range, they tend to focus more and more on vocational activities. The kinds of jobs they might receive instruction in varies greatly depending on the needs of the individual. In previous years, there have been over ten existing off-campus job sites in the community that students might have the opportunity to go to during their years here. These job sites have included the Northwest Hospital, Seattle Central Community College, North Seattle Community College, University Food Bank, and more. The specific tasks students might do at these job sites include watering plants, washing dishes, laundry, data entry, cleaning, sorting, ordering, and much more. Additionally, we have many students receiving vocational instruction on campus through a variety or tasks including managing the recycling program or in job placements in the cafeteria or the library. In addition, some students leave campus and participate in other vocational program such as School-to-Work or the Exploratory Internship Program (XIP). It is our hope that these vocational experiences will not only be something for these students to put on their resumes but will also cause them to see the rewards and benefits to a lifetime of working.

In today’s complex economy, we believe that there is a job out there for every person regardless of disability. It is our ultimate goal that every student leave high school with the capability and desire to immediately enter the work force (or in some cases go on to college or a trade school). To ensure that this happens we work closely with the Department of Vocation Rehabilitation (DVR) and other organizations that help people with disabilities find employment. 

Communication and Social Skills

Our training tells us that many – if not most – problematic behaviors stem from issues of communication. A wide spectrum of communication skills are taught at Ingraham. For some students these skills could include picture exchange, an augmentative communication system, or signing. For others it might include instruction in social skills. A speech/language therapist is employed at Ingraham to work individually with students who have language delays. In addition, all of our special education teachers incorporate social skills and social emotional learning into all of the course and/or advisory classes they teach.

Our staff actively seek opportunities to encourage communication and the development of social skills in many ways. These skills are worked on both outside of the classroom at job sites or on community exploration trips and inside of the classroom, sometimes with the assistance of regular education peer tutors. 

Life and Leisure Skills

Depending on the needs of the students, life skills can mean a lot of different things. For one student it might involve systematic instruction in cutting up food during lunch or independently dressing in the locker room. For another it might involve instruction in telling time or using a calendar (or planner). Many students work on money skills of some kind, which includes both classroom instruction and actually using money in real world situations. Finally, some students take formal life skills classes, which include classes in cooking, daily living skills, and social skills.

Another important part of preparing students with disabilities for adult life is instruction in leisure skills, which can include both solitary and social activities. Many students have an opportunity to play board games at one time or another during the week. In some classrooms, celebrations occur on an intermittent basis where students have an opportunity to socialize. 

Physical Education and Physical Therapy

At Ingraham High School, students have several different options based on their motivation, personal goals, and differing abilities.  Some might choose to join a general education course such as weightlifting or a competitive course such as team sports.  We also offer a modified physical education class within our department which includes students of every level.  This class sometimes even has one or more general education teacher assistants/peers who help teach our students and role model both sportsmanship and athletic dedication. 

Students who qualify for physical or occupational therapy are often seen on a weekly basis by an occupational therapist / physical therapist, who works with students on a variety of functional skills, which could include tying shoes, dressing, lifting weights, or mobility.

Community Exploration

In a typical year (Pre-COVID), all of the classrooms in the CBT program take regular community exploration trips to many destinations, which might include a trip to a restaurant, the mall, hiking, a ferry ride, the Pacific Science Center, or many other destinations around the Seattle area. These trips out into the community can give students an opportunity to work on educational goals, which might include appropriate public behavior, social skills, using money, or riding public transportation. Frequently some kind of written assignment is incorporated into the trip, and oftentimes these trips are to destinations that are inherently educational such as a museum or exhibit.


The transition between school and work is perhaps the most significant of most people’s lives, and helping students (and parents) to manage this transition to work is part of what we do. It is our hope that the years our students spend at Ingraham will help them to achieve a maximum level of independence both at work and at home. In addition to the subjects mentioned above, which all relate to this transition in some way, we also try to effectively advise parents (and the students themselves) in issues such as housing, guardianship, adult social opportunities, and transportation. We have developed a transition manual and checklist for parents, and each year we have two parent transition nights where we invite representatives from agencies such as DVR and DDD to speak to parents.

Enrichment Program

According to their mission statement, the CBT Enrichment Program exists “to provide our students and alumni with an enriched high school experience and an on-going social network, and to create an opportunity for parents, guardians, and staff to share information and ideas.” They meet several times during the year to share information and experiences, discuss ways to support the students, and to plan events such as potlucks and dances.

Please e-mail Peter Behr, with questions.