Kelly O'Leary

Kelly O'Leary

School Schedule:

  • Monday – Thursday 7:20AM-2:00PM
  • Friday 7:20AM-11AM


RAIL is a program with the Rochester Public Schools that is designed for students between the ages of 18-21, who have a moderate to severe cognitive disability that requires close supervision and assistance. It is for students who have already had four years of the high school experience and need to move to a more adult setting. RAIL is for students who need an adult setting, yet still have transition goals and objectives to complete.  RAIL will help prepare students for community and work environments.  RAIL will offer students an accessible site in an adult setting with moderate to intense support. 


The mission of the RAIL Program is to prepare students to live meaningful and productive lives by providing them with skills and knowledge necessary to make an effective transition from school to adult life.


The rationale behind the RAIL proposal is that students in grades 9-12 have very different needs than students who are ages 18-21.  It is important that students in grades 9-12 gain as much as they can while enjoying the experience of being in high school.  However, once a student reaches age 18, the focus of the student’s program shifts to a more intense preparation for adult life.  Spending additional time at the high school is not effective in preparing students for the real life experiences that they will have as an adult.  Students need to have a setting that will prepare them for adult services.  They need to have real life experiences that will help them reach their transition goals.

RAIL provides a community and life-based educational model, separate from the high school setting.  Program focus is on transition goals, individualized for each student.  Students develop and utilize supports in the community that will be important for them in their adult lives.  Opportunities are provided for learning to be community based through the transition domains:  vocational, home living, community participation, recreation/leisure, and post-secondary education.


Students have opportunities to develop independent living skills such as:


  • Self-care
  • Food preparation
  • Cleaning
  • Safety
  • Health
  • Clothing care
  • Money management
  • Recreation/leisure
  • Job training



 The focus of the RAIL program is on:

-skills for independent living

-service learning

-job training

-sheltered to supported employment

-connections to adult and community services


The staff at RAIL provides specially designed instruction and practice to develop skills while providing a safety net so that students learn from challenges they may experience. 

Rochester Public Schools will provide a means of transportation through district buses, vans, or outside agency vehicles.

RAIL is designed to prepare students for the adulthood.  We encourage dress-casual attire.  Clothing should be clean, free of holes, and presentable for being in public places.  Students should present a positive appearance, as they will be in public frequently.

We have cafeteria service at RAIL.  If you want to use this, you are responsible for having money in your account.  Hot lunches are prepared at Mayo High school and delivered to ESC.  Students wanting hot lunch need to indicate this upon check-in every day. If students are not at RAIL first thing in the morning and want hot lunch, they are expected to call the main RAIL phone and inform staff.  Students also have the option of bringing lunches from home. Refrigeration and microwaves are available. Students are encouraged to label containers.  There are vending machines available in the building with limited snack and beverage options.

Are available for students to keep belongings safe. 

RAIL’s curriculum will focus around the transition areas.

Home Living:

While some students continue to live with their parents and/or family members, others may live away from their parents in group home settings.  Home living supporting agencies include Cardinal of Minnesota, Hiawatha Homes, REM, Zumbro House and MSOCs. 

RAIL staff maintains contact with those providing support to students in their homes, so that learned skills are transferred to their home living environment.  School staff visits the residential homes.  Additionally, parents and residential support staff visit RAIL.  These visits improve communication between the home and school, and enable great consistency to occur between environments in teaching and reinforcing practical living skills.  Adaptive materials used at school can be duplicated for use in the home environment.

The home living domain of transition includes a wide range of skill areas: self-care, food preparation, cleaning, safety, health, clothing care and money management. 

Students also get experience preparing basic food items.  An occupational therapist accesses student skills and teaches them how to use adaptations to accommodate for limitations in their skills or abilities. 

Self-care and safety issues emerge as students learn about expected weather conditions and dress accordingly.  Students need assistance completing self-care skills; these including toileting, grooming, and dressing.

Students share responsibility for keeping the classroom areas clean.  They learn about storing food properly in the refrigerator.  Sharing responsibilities for cleaning up common areas broadens their awareness for their adult responsibilities of cleaning up after themselves at an option to work lunchroom, as well as in their own homes.


*Community Participation:

The school district will provide transportation to travel to and from RAIL to home and to access the community.   Some students may be eligible for ZIPS, the door-to-door public transportation service.  If a potentially eligible student has not applied for this service, RAIL staff assists the student’s guardian in completing this process.  Once students are eligible for the service, they begin using it.  This requires advanced planning, as trip requests must be called in to a dispatcher a day before the ride is desired.  RAIL staff will assist the student in contacting the dispatcher.

Citizenship skills increase as students become increasingly aware of their community.  Trips to grocery stores, the library, etc. allow the student the opportunity to become familiar with what is available in their community.  A vision for RAIL is to provide weekly trips for the students to go on out into the community.


Students at RAIL will be provided with occupational awareness activities.   The vocational teacher along with the DCD-SP teacher will create job experiences for the individual to try while at RAIL.  The main objective for these experiences will be for students to increase their one task time and complete the task with more independence.  A second objective for students is teaching them how to handle their feelings and emotions appropriately and develop social skills that are appropriate for the work place/recreation/leisure program.


Students at RAIL will be provided with a variety of recreation/leisure activities.  A vision for RAIL is to make the students active participants in their health.  Students will have daily physical activities planned into their schedule.  At least one time per week, students will access some community site to do a recreation/leisure activity.  Examples of recreation/leisure activities include: swimming at the Y, walking around Silver Lake, bowling, going to a movie, going to the library, etc. 

RAIL is a program for students receiving special education services who have completed beneficial high school classes and demonstrate a continuing need for special education services to develop independent living skills to be active participants in their community.  Through review of evaluation information and IEP goal progress data, the student and IEP Team members develop an awareness of skills that may need to be enriched or developed in order to prepare the student for adult life.   


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