Bay University guides adult students to success


Natalie Gyde

Burlingame’s Bay University class in session on Thursday, Sept. 22.

Natalie Gyde, Social Coordinator

Many Burlingame students walk into the F-Building every day. Most likely, they head up the stairs for an architecture, engineering or nutrition class, overlooking the three classrooms on the downstairs floor. But to the staff and students at Bay University, the four walls of those three classrooms represent much more than just school. 

Bay University is an adult transition program designed to prepare these students for the working world, providing them with social skills and teaching them independent living habits. The program relies heavily on main teachers Jared Abbott, Jenna Smith and Tisha Herron.

“I think my favorite part of Bay University is just seeing the growth that happens with my students over the course of four years,” Abbott said. 

Students arrive at Bay University after graduating from high school, and they spend the next four years developing in the program. 

“So they come to me as high school graduates and just to see that independence that they gain, it’s always exciting to see,” Abbott said. 

Bay University runs on its own times and curriculum, following a different bell schedule than the rest of school. Students benefit from a learning environment that allots time for activities outside the classroom and in the community. 

“On Mondays and Tuesdays, we’re at job sites. Wednesdays and Thursdays we’re doing an ILS [independent living skills] rotation,” Herron said. “Students rotate and do different things. They go to the gym two days a week.” 

Working at job sites in the community helps students gain both independence and confidence in the working world.

“When they’re able to independently take the bus to their work sites that feels really awesome for them,” Abbott said. “So getting to a worksite independently or not needing their job coach when they’re at work. Those are those really cool moments for them,”

Just like Burlingame, Cappuccino High School is home to three Bay University classes. Once a month, all six classes get together for an after-school activity. These events allow students to have fun and interact with other students in the community.   

“We do four dances over the course of the year, and we just had a back to school dance. We have a Halloween one next month,” Abbott said. “And then in the months where we don’t have a dance, we try to do an all group hangout.”

Although Bay University students participate in activities off-campus, they spend most of their time in the three classes on the bottom floor of the F-Building, with around 10 to 15 students in each class.  

“[The facilities of the F building] are very useful. It’s all functional. We have a bathroom with a shower. We have a kitchen that is accessible for all students.” Herron said. “We have our support animals and Jenna’s room. We have the facilities that we need to have the program that we have.” 

Day-to-day activities succeed at Bay University because the program fosters a sense of community from the get-go. All the staff within the F-Building are extremely welcoming and ensure that each student is happy and healthy. 

“We always encourage people to stop by if they are curious or have any questions,” Abbott said. “We might not always be here. The doors are always open.”