Naples Players improv class helps students with disabilities prepare for job interviews

Published: March 25, 2021 5:32 PM EDT
Updated: March 25, 2021 6:39 PM EDT

There’s a group teaching the important skills needed to land a job to the students who need them the most.

A virtual course offered by The Naples Players at Sugden Community Theatre is teaching teens with disabilities life-changing lessons.

Special needs students in Collier County are getting ready to look for a job. That means job interviews. Those can be daunting for anybody, so Naples Players is using its improv training to help get them ready.

“Interview skills is something we can completely and adapt to our improv games,” said Craig Price, the Naples Players director of community education and wellness. “Eye contact, confidence, sharing our voice, sharing our emotions but also recognizing those emotions and reading emotions in others.”

Price teaches the improv for interview skills class in partnership with Collier County Public Schools and NCH Healthcare System.

Once a month, Price teaches 17 students creative techniques such as using familiar gestures to help remember people’s names, all leading up to mock interviews.

“For students with disabilities, repetition and real-life examples are so important,” said Nicole Cholka, with NCH project search. “So you can talk about interview skills all day long, but until you put them in front of an interviewer and they actually get to do an interview, it’s a game changer.”

Just three classes in, their instructors told us they can see a difference.

“The first time we came on with Craig Price, they were kind of in their seats afraid to stand up and you know not sure what to say and do,” Cholka said “And today, we had two students willingly volunteer, and they were excited to do it.”

This is the first year CCPS and NCH have used an improv class to help with interview skills. The students also get a taste of the workplace through training with NCH and Naples Beach Hotel.

“A lot of our students have received jobs recently, so it’s exciting to see the process is working for them,” said Gina Manville Dejager, the life program instructor.