There is a critical connection between schools, communities and student engagement. While embarking on school visits this spring, I am excited to connect directly with teachers and administrators, witness their enthusiasm and see these partnerships and connections in action.
Observing firsthand all the amazing things that are happening in our schools is one of the best parts of getting back into classrooms. When students are truly engaged, the connection between the classroom and their future is clear, which was on full display in Marshalltown where I saw students engaged in a career-based simulation class called Modular Technology. A required class in the 7th grade, students explore careers through hands-on activities in fields such as health care, construction, food and nutrition, aviation and engineering. Students were locating a vein to give their patient (a stuffed bear) a blood transfusion, calculating the caloric content of a balanced meal and designing, engineering and constructing a model bridge, to name a few. Each module is sponsored by a local business and students get a glimpse into the education that goes into each field.
Next week I am excited to visit Cedar Rapids, Linn-Mar and Marion schools, where I will get to see how Iowa BIG fosters students’ entrepreneurial spirit by partnering high school students with business and nonprofit partners to work on real problems needing solutions. I will also be visiting the Kenwood Leadership Academy, an elementary magnet school that integrates leadership into all core areas, including science, technology, engineering, math, literacy and social-emotional-behavioral learning.
While meeting with Linn-Mar and Marion school leaders, I will have the opportunity to learn about the new Venture Academics program, which focuses on extending learning to real-world applications, visit career and technical education classrooms and see how a partnership called Marion Community Build is benefiting the community while giving high school students the opportunity to learn valuable home renovation skills.
Ensuring our education system meets the needs of every student means expanding opportunities that build on their strengths and forming connections to meet their needs. I am inspired by the students I see engaged in their learning and can't wait to see more of these school-community partnerships in action as we work together to help students find the pathway to their future.