Success Stories

Karisue painting 

Karisue Goodsell is a creative young woman who loves being around children and needs a supportive work environment.

Karisue started working as an intern at Gresham Heights Learning Center while she was attending the transition program at Centennial Transition Center.

Transition teacher Deven Kautza developed the internship for Karisue, who had gone through Discovery to find out more about her interests and talents. Discovery led to a search for a job working with children, and the environment at Gresham Heights was a good fit for Karisue.

“Karisue really started advocating for herself,” Deven said. “She had other job offers and possibilities, but she held out for Gresham Heights because she felt most comfortable there.”

Karisue, 22, started working at Gresham Heights before she graduated from the transition program in June 2016. After graduation, she increased her hours to 20 hours per week. She works as a preschool assistant at Gresham Heights, which provides daycare for infants, preschool and school age children.

 “I’ve always loved kids,” Karisue said. “When I see a baby, I know I can make them smile. And that’s how I knew what I wanted to do.”

As a preschool assistant, Karisue assists in the room with a variety of tasks including helping children with activities, setting up snacks, helping direct them from one activity to another, cleaning up after their messes, and much more.

Gene Ann and Karisue 

Karisue has a supportive family who encouraged her to work. She lives near Gresham Heights and either takes the bus or gets a ride to work each day.

“I have so much support,” she said. “My family is so excited that I’m working. And it gets me out of the house.”

Gresham Heights owner Gene Ann Shepherd said Karisue’s internship through the transition program helped her to make the decision to hire Karisue as a permanent employee.

“I probably would not have hired her if she hadn’t done the internship,” Gene Ann said. “I had to see she was capable of doing the job and could work with the children.”

Karisue works primarily with children 16 to 36 months old. Gene Ann said Karisue’s positive attitude and creativity make her a good employee.

“She comes in each day and says to me, ‘Today we’re going to make it a good day, right Gene Ann?’ Gene Ann said. “Most people have trouble not being negative or overreacting with young children. She is very positive with the children and a friend to them, which is really important to me.”

Karisue experiences an intellectual disability and can become anxious when she feels overwhelmed or confused. Gene Ann and the rest of the staff have worked with her so she feels comfortable coming to them if she needs assistance or a break.

“If she doesn’t understand something, she comes back and asks for clarification, which I really appreciate,” Gene Ann said.

Mark Foster was the VR counselor for Karisue. Jesse Raposa with Independence Northwest is her service coordinator. Mason Lauderback was the job developer and Deven Kautza was her transition teacher who also set up her internship at Gresham Heights. After initial job coaching, Karisue works primarily now with natural supports from coworkers. Josh Goller provided benefits counseling.

You can also view a photo slideshow of Karisue at work.