Meet Our Students: Elizabeth Story

30. November 2011 10:55

This semester I’ve been taking Children’s Literature taught by Professor Dalton. We have been doing book logs and book clubs. And I have really enjoyed it. We read The Tale of Desperaux (which I read nonstop) and Clementine. We also read Three Cups of Tea and I just got done reading Ramona and Beezus. My favorite thing about class is learning about different stuff with books and getting to read. I work with kids that are from 12 months to 5 years of age, so I enjoy reading children’s books to understand them better. I graduate in December and hope to work with kids afterwards. 



Meet Our Students: Jeanne Gavigan

8. November 2011 13:43

This year I’m working at TPAC.  I did my work this morning. I work from 9:00 until 11:00. Today I did recycling and trash. I also did paper in the hallway. This is fun because it’s my dream job.

Tennessee Performing Arts Center does shows. My daddy and I go a lot and see shows. We saw Wicked last year. I also saw Wizard of Oz. In two weeks I’m going to see Memphis.

Past internships I’ve had are VU Theater, the Vanderbilt Bookstore, and the Peabody Library. My favorite was the VU Theater because I worked at the box office. It was fun. I sold tickets.

After I graduate I want to do acting.



Meet Our Students: Steven Greiner

8. November 2011 13:09

My name is Steven Michael Greiner. I’m a third semester student here, (started in fall 2010). I’ve met a lot of new friends and of course old friends too who were in the program before me. This is everything I thought it was going to be and more. My hobbies are fishing, boating, old cars, driving, and just being witty and funny.

This year I’m in Film 125: Introduction to Film with Professor Faye. I’m learning how to look beyond the movies narrative structure. We view movies every Monday night. This is an interesting course. Met some cool friends in that class. I have a note taker named Les and I met some other awesome people.

On Tuesdays I have an Independent Living Skills course. After that I hang out for a few, have something to eat, then I go have an awesome internship at the Dayani Center. I helped with their new stem cell patients. I help work out with them and I keep them motivated. After that I have tutoring with Carly. She’s awesome. And I found out recently that we both love fishing.

I get along great with my Ambassadores. Cecile and I also love fishing. Newton and I both like talking about Best Buddies and baseball. And then recently, I got another Ambassadore named Liz. She and I have a lot in common too. She’s from California, like me and her family has a boat, just like me! We hang out a lot. And then I have an awesome dinner mate named Becca. We share a common interest in movies. We are movie nuts!

I’m on 2 committees at this fine institution. It really is a great institution - a top university. The first organization is Best Buddies. I am a member of the Best Buddies Board. I help plan activities and help keep track of the one-on-one friendships. And then I’m on the Next Steps Social Committee. I help plan activities. We are having the first Next Steps tailgate on October 29th. It’s going to be in the morning before the game. Hope you love waking up early! We’re going to have some breakfast foods, which will be good. And it’s going to be a fun time. 



Spring Break Fun!!!

30. March 2011 18:28

Spring Break is something that all college students look forward to each year.  This semester, Next Steps students had the opportunity to go on a Best Buddies Alternative Spring Break.  Some students spent five days in Denver, Colorado, while others enjoyed the week in Miami, Florida.  Everyone came back raving about all that they had seen and done.  Not only were the trips fun, but the students also volunteered their time to help others.

Here are the students’ thoughts about Spring Break in their own words…


Making Waves in Miami!

            On my spring break trip, I went to Miami, Florida.  My favorite memories were playing basketball with my friends, telling a story about my life, and several other things.

I thought working at Camillus House and helping serve food to the homeless people was a nice way to help those who are less fortunate than we are. At the Everglades National Park, we picked up trash around the canal, and while I was there, I saw a gator in the river.

The weather was somewhere between 80 and 85 degrees, and it felt nice to be outside. I thought the overall experience was fun because I discovered new things and got to meet David Lee’s family. I liked seeing the Everglades National Park too. It made me feel better because Crystal Finley, Kelly Wendel, and Elise McMillan were on the trip with me. Because without them being there, I would have missed them too much.

-          Sean Falkner


The trip to Miami FL was awesome, I was so glad to go. The first day I arrived to the airport.  Then we got checked in and went through security then we got on the plane and flew to Fort Lauderdale. Then from there we rented some vans and went to a Subway.

I loved this trip, I got to know some real awesome people like David Lee our head of the trip and Bola his co-captain. David’s best buddy Jacob Webne went that was cool I really enjoyed volunteering at Camillus House. Then we volunteered at the Everglades, that was fun, then we volunteered at the Children's Museum.

The weather was awesome it was hot and nice. We went to the beach two days, that was fun. I was so happy Crystal Finley went with us on the trip. Rachel and Sean and Edward went too and Jacob. It was real awesome that Ali Bryne came by the church wherewe stayed at in Coconut Grove. That was one of my favorite memories then the other one was meeting Anthony Shriver. Then I met this cute nice little boy name Lucas.

-          Steven Greiner


I went to Miami. We did community service.  We helped feed the homeless people for 4 days, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  On Wednesday, we helped pick up trash at the Everglades.  Thursday we went to the children's Museum.  We helped out with the kids.  On our last day we went to the beach all day and it was awesome.

-          Edward Nesbitt


I went on an airplane to go to Miami Florida for spring break. We helped out with Camillus house for a service project for Best Buddies. We served food to the homeless. We went to the Children’s Museum to play with the kids. We went to the beach. We went to go visit a college in Miami Florida. We had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every day for lunch. We made dinner every night except for Thursday night we had Johnny Rockets for dinner. We played basketball every day. We did life maps. Also we did reflection about our favorite things we did that day.  We stayed at a church for our spring break. We slept on the ground. We went to a Christian church. Also I went to a Catholic church with Crystal and Kelly.

                                -Rachel Pearson



Doing Good in Denver!

I went to Denver.  Michael almost went into the women’s restroom when we went to the movie.  At the Special Olympics’ we were helping with downhill Skiing and uphill Skiing and Snows shoes.  I also helped sort canned goods and dried goods. The weather was cold and some days also snowy and rainy and windy.  It was awesome and amazingly fun to learn about each other.  

-          Andrew Van Cleave


For spring break I went to Denver, Colorado. My favorite part was cheering when people were skiing. We worked at a food bank as a service project. It was cold and snowy while I was there. Being in Denver made me happy. 

-          Jeanne Gavigan


Saturday                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I went to the airport to fly to Denver. We landed in Denver and took a van to Brittany’s house. We ate lunch and unpacked our things. We shopped for week’s food that afternoon. We had down time and played cards.


Ate breakfast and rode to Copper Mountain to volunteer for Special Olympics Winter games we worked the Cross Country Skiing Event. We cooked dinner at Brittany’s house. We went bowling. We had nightly discussion with the group before going to bed.

Monday                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            We volunteered at the Denver Food Bank. We filled the boxes with food. The center leaders said we are really fast. Returned to Brittany’s and had our dinner and down time.

Tuesday                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   After breakfast we returned to the food bank for more volunteering. We ate lunch in the town and took a tour of the Denver capitol Building.  We walked around the 16th street Mall and Downtown Denver. We ate dinner at spaghetti Factory. We went back to Brittany’s house and had our nightly discussion later the girl and boys separated and had a movie night.


We packed our clothes and went to nearby Park for a walk. The snow was deep on the paths. We ate lunch, loaded our things in the van and headed to the Airport to fly home. 


-          Hallie Bearden



For my spring break I went to Denver, CO and it was an awesome time.  One of my favorite memories was bowling because I beat Tammy by one pin and my highest score was a 129!  We had to get up at 5:45 in the morning and go to the Special Olympics. We were the marshals and we were supposed to tell him where to go. Then another thing we did was called the Food Works and we unloaded boxes and sorted them. The weather when we got there was very cold and when we got to the Special Olympics it was freezing cold. But then it got warmer. This was my first Spring Break with best buddies and it was awesome!!!!!

-          Michael Heroux


Relaxin’ in Nashville!

What I did on my Spring Break was work at Susan Gray School. It was very fun and the kids were very happy to see me. I also got to see my friends Bethany and Lily. When Lily, Bethany, and I went to dinner we had loads of fun! One thing we did was go out to dinner.

-          Elizabeth Story



The Miami Crew!


The Denver Team!


Happy Holidays!

20. December 2010 14:54

Many warm wishes from the Next Steps at Vanderbilt staff to all.

Here's a great elf video to cheer up your day:

A BIG thank you goes out to my husband, Matthew Byrne, for getting the "elf yourself" video together so we were able to show it during our final presentations on Friday, December 17.

Another very successful semester has come to an end.


December update!

17. December 2010 13:32

Group photo taken at Montgomery Bell State Park

Rachel, Sean and Liz presenting at the TN Council on Developmental Disabilities staff retreat that took place at Montgomery State Park

Hello, readers! A lot has been going on and we've accomplished quite a lot in the past few weeks. The Ambassadores (peer mentors) commitment for the fall semseter came to an end on the 3rd of December so that they could focus their energies on finishing off the semester strong. The Next Steps students also finished their fall semester internships that same Friday. So, from December 6th through December 17th the Next Steps staff have been keeping the students busy through community outings and events.

Happy holidays to all and cheers to another successful completition of a school semester. Laughing

 Enjoying lunch at the Farmer's Market

L-to-R: Jeanne, Rachel, Andrew, Edward

L-to-R: Andrew, Rachel, Michael (AKA the 3 Amigos)

L-to-R: Chrissy, Steven, Hallie

 This is what our schedule looked like:

Monday, December 6

9AM: Start the day in Hank-Ingram Classroom

Review schedules

10AM: Go to the MTA Hub to get everyone an ID ($5 needed!)

12PM: Lunch at the Farmer’s Market

1:30PM: Visit/tour the Frist Center to see the Impressionism Exhibit

3PM: End of Day

Note: Students prepare and bring your own sack lunch


Tuesday, December 7

9AM: Enjoy breakfast at the Commons

10:30AM: Catch the metro bus to 100 Oaks and go to Michael’s

Purchase poster frames, Christmas crafts, photojournal materials

12PM: Go back to the Apartment

Enjoy sack lunches

1PM: Frame posters and work on Christmas crafts

3PM: End of Day

Note: Students bring Commodore Card for breakfast or cash, prepare and bring your own sack lunch


Wednesday, December 8

9AM: Meet at the Commons

9:15AM: Walk to the Rec Center

Enjoy the pool, basketball courts, racquetball courts, weights and indoor track

11AM: Get changed and dressed

Walk to Sarratt/Rand

12PM: Lunch at Rand

1PM: Enjoy the Sarratt Holiday Art Festival

3PM: End of Day

Note: Students bring sack lunch from home that you prepare, Commodore Card or Cash


Thursday, December 9

9AM: Meet at the Commons

9:15AM: Take the bus downtown

Visit the downtown library

Get library cards made (Davidson County Residents only)

11AM: Take the bus down Charlotte

Eat lunch at Costco

12 PM: Trip to Strike & Spare (bowling!)

Play arcades

Take the bus back to campus

3PM: End of Day

Note: Students bring cash for lunch or prepare and bring your own sack lunch


Friday, December 10

9AM: Meet at the Commons

9:15AM: Stop by Cohen to check out the faculty art exhibit

9:45AM: Grocery Shopping – kitchens: Village at Vanderbilt and Hank-Ingram

(Menu: Chicken salad, wheat bread, grapes, crackers, celery, onions, mayo, banana pudding, lettuce, vanilla wafers, bananas, whipped cream)

12:30-1:00 Andrew, Chrissy, Michael and David present to Williamson Co. Venture Group –MRL 241

1:00 - 2:40 Enjoy the rec center

3:00 - 4:00 Final physics lab


Monday, December 13 (Snow storm!!!)


Tuesday, December 14 (Hallie and Edward at TTC)

Meet at 9:00

Grocery/holiday shopping at Walmart on Charlotte Ave by 9:30

(Menu: Sweet potato casserole, Stuffing, Rotisserie Chicken, Green Beans, Rolls, Angel food cake with light icing, hot apple cider)

11:00 begin cooking lunch at the apartment

1:00-5:00 Sarratt Art Studios to work on the semester photojournal

                Work on holiday cards for seniors

                Play games to mix things up

5:30 Dinner at Logan’s

7:00 Movie night/games at the Kennedy Center (MRL 241)

                Popcorn, hot chocolate, apple cider

9:00 End of evening

Students bring $$ for holiday shopping if you still have some gift buying to do. Also, bring money for dinner at Logan’s.


Wednesday, December 15

9:00AM: Meet at the Commons

Take the bus to Green Hills

9:30AM: Be at the Green Hills YMCA for the tour

Set up for the event

11AM: Start of the Senior Christmas Party

Help serve and then enjoy the food

Event ends at 2 PM

Head back to the Commons

3PM: End of Day

Contact person: Anita Rich (256-9622 x70520)

YMCA 297-6529 (Harriet)

Students bring money for the bus to and from Green Hills area.


Thursday, December 16  (Hallie and Edward at TTC in a.m.)

9AM: Meet at the Commons

9:30AM: Explore the Hill Center

10 AM: Meet Linda (Whole Foods Marketing Team Leader) and take a tour of the Whole Foods and get educated on organic foods

11AM: Lunch at Zoie’s Kitchen

12:15PM: Head out to Ft. Negley

1 – 2 PM: Tour with Bob Henderson

Note: Students bring lunch $$


Friday, December 17

9AM: Meet at the Commons

9:15AM: Head out for Grocery Shopping

10:15AM: Bake day at the Apartment and gift wrapping lesson with Mary Beth

Enjoy the last Friday Food Foray

1:30 – 3 PM: Share presentations (from Alice’s technology class) to parents and Ambassadores at the Kennedy Center in room 241 (Baked goods will be available!)

3PM: End of FALL 2010 Semester!

Best Buddies TN Champion of the Year Event:

L-to-R: Emily M.(Next Steps Ambassadore), Edward, Rosie L. (Next Steps Ambassadore), Jeanne


Email to Ambassadores

14. December 2010 14:50

Dear Ambassadores,


I hope you’re staying warm and cruising through finals and final papers!! We’re thinking of you and sending many warm wishes your way.

There are a few things in this email that I promised to send to those who were unable to make the final Circle Meeting. So, here goes my final email for the fall 2010 semester.


Things I reviewed during the final circle meeting:


1)      How did the semester go? What can we do better?

Here are some of the comments I heard back:

a.       Each circle needs an “email communicator” who would be responsible for sending reminders for evaluations, monthly circle meetings, minutes from meetings and occasionally how are things going and helpful tips emails to the circle

b.      More social events where:

                                                               i.      Each circle gets together with their Next Step student

                                                             ii.      ALL circles get together with ALL the Next Step students (pot luck socials, pizza party socials…etc.)

c.       At the beginning of each semester Tammy will sit down with each academic tutor, Next Step student and the parent that helps their child with their school work to review the independent learning contract and the students expectations for the VU class

d.      Recruit more male Ambassadores by sending out blast emails through IFC


2)      If you are still on campus on Friday, please be sure to note that the Next Steps students will present their final power point presentations on December 17th in the Kennedy Center room 241 from 1:30 – 3 PM.  All are invited to join!!


3)      Final evaluations: If you have not returned these to me, please email them back!


4)      Lastly, I definitely wanted to let everyone know personally, but I have decided to go back to school starting from this January. My last day with Next Step is January 5. Working and getting to know each of you and the Next Step students has been an incredible experience for me. I have loved every moment of getting to work with you!! I will be staying in the Nashville area, so please feel free to stay in touch. My email will remain the same. I will continue to write recommendation letters/reference letters through winter break, so let me know how I can help.


Cheers and Happy Holidays!



What we did on Thanksgiving Break

3. December 2010 17:58

Andrew: I went to my uncle's house in Shelbyville, TN with my family and watched the Pariots game and the Pariots WON!!!! I slept a lot. I played video games, went to a lot of Vandy games. I went to the football field with my internship supervisor at the Police Department. I also got to see the football players walk on the field. I had dinner with my parents at a resturant. I played my playstation 3. I played Madden football game on it. It was fun!!!! On Wednesday I cooked sweet potatoes with my sister for Thanksgiving and it was awesome!!!!!!

Rachel: I went running at the Hendersonville Streets Mall and I ran 5 miles with my family. I also beat my family in the race. I also went to St. Anne's gym at the school and spent time with  my mother's side of the family. Michael came and spent time with me and my family. I also went to see the seventh and last installment to the Harry Potter movies. The next day I went to go to another movie called Morning Glory with my family and it was fun! On Saturday night we went to go eat after church. On Sunday I watched Christmas movies.

Elizabeth: I spent Thanksgiving with my parents, my brother, and my sister-in-law. We watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade and then we watched a lot of football games. We also ate a lot. That night we all watched Iron Man 2 and it was a lot of fun! I went to Thanksgiving dinner  at my house and had great food. I went to eat lunch with my brother, and my sister-in-law. Also, David  came to have lunch with us.I slept in on  Saturday.




29. November 2010 21:17

Sean: I just bought the brand new guitar hero Warroirs of rock video game on xbox 360, and I had a whole lot of fun playing it.

         I can now play all the songs on expert level, and there were a lot of songs that I liked. There will never be a guitar hero that would beat all the other ones because guitar hero games are the     best video games I have ever played in my life.


Exploring the Arts

29. November 2010 19:03

This semester (Fall 2010) is quickly coming to an end. We've had many successes and learned many new things. One success that I would like to highlight is Sarratt Art Studios. This semester we had students in digital photography, water colors and exploring studios arts. All three Next Steps at Vanderbilt students thoroughly enjoying their experience in the art classes.

Andrew took the digital photography class. I have a few of his photos that I am so excited about posting and show casing in this blog entry.

Andrew's self portrait. Photo taken with self-timer on a tripod. In the middle is his dog and on the right is his mom holding his football.

A photograph portraying light.

Shapes in nature. The "V" form in trees.

Shapes in architecture. The shape of the water spiggets against the backdrop of the geometric bricks.

Portrait of Michael, Andrew's Ambassadore and photography buddy.


About Next Steps

Next Steps at Vanderbilt is a 2-year certification program for students with intellectual disabilities, providing individualized Programs of Study in the areas of education, social skills, and vocational training.

Welcome to our blog!

Blog is updated and maintained by Kelly Wendel, Program Coordinator.

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