Pathways to Life Specialty School

This school program provides a transition to adulthood for 18 to 21-year olds with mild to severe disabilities. An Individual Education Plan (IEP) is developed and followed for the student’s progress. We use the "Essential for Living" curriculum, which measures and tracks progress in communication, behavior, and functional skills for optimum learning. Tuition is paid by the school district of qualifying students.

Pathways to Life is located in the Vista Park building at 2801 South Kiwanis Avenue in Sioux Falls. 

The Classroom of Life

Classes meet year-round, five days a week, from 8:30 am to 3:30 p.m. This helps students acclimate to real-life, year-round work schedules.  Half the day is spent in classroom learning, and half is spent having community experiences.In conjunction with South Dakota Vocational Rehabilitation, students focus on exploring and developing skills for work, volunteering, and community involvement. 


Four-Part Curriculum Highlights

  • Pre-employment: Job-Exploration counseling, social skills, and self-advocacy.
  • Workforce readiness: Attitude, communication, problem-solving, and professionalism.
  • Community readiness: Accessing transportation, shopping, voting, and banking.
  • Domestic skills: Home care, meal planning/cooking, paying bills, and scheduling appointments.


Vocational Training

Although job placement is not a requirement of the program, students will explore work skills training, and have the ability to learn appropriate workplace behaviors. Students who are placed in job situations are accompanied by LifeScape staff who act as job coaches who eventually fade from involvement.  The student is paid through Vocational Rehabilitation Services’ Project Skills program. The goal is for that to fade, too, and the person to be paid as a regular employee. 


Volunteerism and Active Community Participation

To prepare for employment or as an alternative to work, students participate in various volunteering experiences and are immersed in hands-on learning. These opportunities teach students how to access community resources such as banking, transportation, social groups, service clubs, and shopping – and how to integrate these activities into their daily lives.

Pathways students volunteer at the Feeding South Dakota Food Pantry, Outdoor Campus, Sioux Falls City Parks, The Banquet, Bishop Dudley House, and Parent Connection.


A Unique Setting

Pathways to Life is located in the Vista Park building at 2801 S. Kiwanis Avenue, Suite 100, in Sioux Falls. (This building was originally the Central Plains Clinic building.)  It has regular and accessible kitchen and laundry areas, indoor garden areas, and a simulated bedroom setting.  Students plan, shop for, and cook meals. They practice using public transportation. They assist with the building’s landscaping—trimming bushes, planting, and weeding—all skills for work, volunteering, or home care.


Guidelines Set by Departments of Education & Labor

Pathways to Life meets Department of Education guidelines and regulations related to the Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA), Section 511. The goal is to provide the skills for as much independence as possible within the home and community settings.


For information and referrals, contact admissions at 605-444-9550.

Pathways to Life Specialty School Staff