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Draper Journal

Karl Malone Toyota Meets The Needs Of Special Needs Students

Apr 17, 2015 05:26PM ● By Erin Dixon

Samantha Sink cleaning the pirate ship in the children’s area.

Karl Malone Toyota in Draper hosts special needs students from South Valley School each semester to help them learn employment skills and valuable social skills. Four days a week, three or four kids come to work for an hour performing various tasks for the dealership. The kids help in many areas, from cleaning desks and children’s play area to detailing cars. They are a valuable asset to the dealership, and the full-time employees are grateful to have the help.

South Valley School teaches students ages 18-22 life skills, such as how to follow instructions from an employer and to navigate public transportation. The dealership facilitates this learning by giving them real-world experience.  “We like to do it because they are a part of our team,” said Amy Hind, Customer Relations Manager. “They feel like they’re a part of our team, and they are doing work just like we are.”
Lauren Westover cleaning the tables children’s area.

 Many of the students who are trained here, and at other job sites, are able to get jobs after graduation. “We’ve had people who have been hired on at Karl Malone Toyota in years past,” said Laurie Sandberg, an instructional assistant who accompanies the kids to the job sites. Other job sites will hire the students also because they see the students are hard workers and can be valuable assets to the company. 

Sometimes when kids first enter a job site they are shy and wary of others, but by the end of the semester they are lively and hard-working. 

Some kids are wildly enthusiastic about their job at Karl Malone Toyota.“We clean them up and make them look shiny and nice,” said Chris Blackburn, who helps clean and detail cars at the dealership. The students are assigned to various other job sites throughout their time at South Valley School, but they all enjoy working for Karl Malone Toyota. Many of the students have met dealership owner Karl Malone and love to say that they work for him. “It’s awesome, because Karl Malone is awesome. He used to be a basketball player but he’s retired,” said Blackburn.
Chris Blackburn detailing a car with help from Karl Malone Toyota employee Daniel Novotney.

Cindy Lou Williams-Mitchell, Principal of South Valley School said, “We have a very good relationship with Karl Malone and they do wonderful things with our kids. We have quite a few business partners in the community that function in the same way that Karl Malone Toyota does. We have [about] another dozen other business partners we work with. Our students have opportunities to job sample and work on specific job skills and have real-life vocational experiences.”

Job integration is part of the regular curriculum and depending on the student’s abilities they may work for two different job sites in a week. 

South Valley School opened in 1974 and has a long time relationship with Karl Malone Toyota. The school hosts about 100 students each year.