BASE Project

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The BASE Project located in Springfield, Missouri stands for Business Associated Student Education. It is a partnership with Springfield Public Schools and St. John’s Health System, Cox Health System, Doctor’s Hospital, Evangel University, and Missouri State University. The goal of the program is to provide students with opportunities to develop career awareness, exploration, assessment, and positive social skills. Students are set up for a successful integration into the world of work and society.

A typical day in the BASE program runs from 8:30am ‘ 3:30pm. It includes approximately 3 hours of academic study including pre-employment training, post-secondary education/training options, daily living skills, occupational guidance, a practical application of mathematics and reading, and working on IEP goals. The work component of the program allows for students to participate in job shadowing for approximately 3 hours per day.

At various sites within the community, students may choose which areas they would like to job shadow in. There are 20 areas to choose from: catering, equestrian, mail room, office, beauty shop, child care, photography, grounds, maintenance, central supply, library, loading dock, computer, bookstore, food and nutrition, services, environmental services, radiology, same day surgery, and patient transport services.

There are currently 7 programs functioning at 6 locations in the community (Missouri State University and all 6 hospitals). Each program enrolls 10 students at a time and there are currently 70 students taking part in the BASE Project. Students that apply for the program must have an IEP and be at least 16 years old. They are first referred by their home school (teacher) and the decision for placement is made by the entire IEP team. Most students stay through the remainder of their high school years.


The BASE Project started in 1996 after Dale Burns and Sue Roods traveled to the St. Louis Special School District to observe a program that assisted students with disabilities in transition. After their visit they wrote a proposal to start a similar program in their district. Upon receiving approval from administration, they started to form a relationship with Cox South Hospital, which agreed to provide space for the program and was the first site implemented.

The curriculum remains individualized per student and varies from classroom to classroom. Typically students are grouped by disabilities in their classroom to ease teacher preparation and staff needs. Students are individually matched up with their job shadowing desires and natural supports are always utilized within the settings. Hospitals have been a good match for the BASE Project, since there are such a wide variety of jobs available within a hospital.


When students are involved in the BASE Project it allows for an easy transition into the world of work because of their exposure to a wide variety of job shadowing experiences and the increase in their level of maturity. One reason for this increase in maturity is because students are not taught in typical classrooms and are exposed to working professionals on a regular basis.

Similar Programs in Missouri:

SWAT (Students Working At Transition)

The SWAT Program is a collaborative effort between Ozark Medical Center and the West Plains R-7 School District and is designed to provide on the job training for students with special needs. SWAT was modeled after the BASE Program which is part of the Springfield Missouri School District.

The program started at the beginning of the 2006-07 school year. The program was started to provide students with opportunities to develop career awareness, exploration, assessment, and positive social skills necessary for successful integration in the world of work and society. The SWAT Program is designed to afford opportunities to learn traditional jobs in nontraditional educational settings. The mission of the program is to raise job skill levels, increase employability skills, encourage acceptance of responsibility and ensure successful vocational outcomes.