Getting the led out

Stacy Simpson
Thursday, February 6, 2020
Article Image Alt Text

Courtesy photo

Jordan Dorendorf mans his pencil stand at the Columbus Elementary School.

Article Image Alt Text

Courtesy photo

Jordan Dorendorf and Columbus Elementary School Principal Marlene Deis.

Many Columbus High School students are friendly, but senior Jordan Dorendorf’s personality makes people smile.

Jordan’s exuberance for life in a positive way has not only touched those around him, but also has led to his success as a small business manager at school. Jordan’s “Get the Lead Out” pencil sales have been a familiar sight at CHS for the last three years. Jordan’s business partner graduated last spring, taking half of the business profits with him, and leaving Jordan to manage and build the business by himself.

The fact that Jordan has autism has not prevented him from growing the business alone.


As a freshman, it was time to start planning for the future. All students who qualify for special education have an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) in place and students with a severe disability or who turn 16 have a transition plan within their IEP, which lays the groundwork for a successful life after high school.

At the time of Jordan’s freshman IEP meeting, it was very difficult to come up with an appropriate transition plan because he was not skilled at following directions well and was easily distracted.

Having small jobs throughout his freshman and sophomore years, such as delivering papers to the staff and getting ice and water for the special education staff each morning, were the first steps in developing skills to be more independent.

Jordan also practiced his work skills at the Special K Ranch two days a week in the springtime. This allowed him to get to know other people with disabilities and learn to work side by side with others. The people at Special K Ranch were patient and generous in letting Jordan join them in their spring planting. With lots of practice, Jordan began to understand there were jobs he could do all on his own.


A pencil machine and cart were purchased with vocational rehabilitation funds through the school. Then, it was time to “Get the Lead Out!” This employment opportunity for Jordan and his friend included standing with the pencil cart during passing times between classes to promote the business, filling the pencil machine, emptying the change from the machine and then depositing the money in the bank.

Unfortunately, the “new” wore off of the business after about two semesters at the high school, and sales have been down sharply. In an effort to revitalize the business, Jordan is expanding to the elementary school this year, hoping to boost sales with new, younger customers.

It worked.

Last week, the pencil machine sold out in about 24 hours. A new shipment was scheduled to arrive this week.