By: Tracy Stegall
How is your district building self-awareness for middle school students in relation to the world of work? How are you providing relevant, real-world experiences for students to discover their passions?
In the Thompson School District, alongside our partners at the Thompson Education Foundation, we are paying attention to the intentional skill development of in-demand ESSENTIAL skills, and doing so as early as elementary school.
In our middle school programming, a combination of partnerships with businesses alongside intelligent pathway planning offers students the opportunity to begin to see ALL of their “tomorrows” at an early age. This is some of the work encompassed by Thompson Tomorrows Today.
Thanks to a grant from OtterCares Foundation, we partnered with MindSpark Learning and Colorado Succeeds to develop a two-year program supporting teachers in K-8 schools in building, from the ground up, a program where purposeful connections are made between school subjects and industry/career paths. Through problem-based learning and work in approaching core subjects through the lens of business and community, students build self-awareness, awareness of careers and industries, and essential skills. This, in turn, offers our business partners authentic ways to partner with us in the district, building a stronger community infrastructure.
This work started with a Great Minds Retreat in April, 2022. This full day event offered a cross-sector opportunity to design and plan Thompson Tomorrows Today. Fifty participants from the Thompson School District and local businesses came together to envision our work together. The main goal was to plan our inaugural Thompson Tomorrows Today event.
In August, the Thompson Tomorrows Today event involved 100 cross-sector revolutionaries including:
This day included tours of the Thompson Career Campus and tours of industry partner worksites: Tharp Cabinets, CoreKat Data Solutions, and Columbine Health. Following a collaborative, catered lunch, the day launched into School Team Planning, Industry Collaboration, and Idea Pitching by Educators to Industry Partners.
As the 2022-2023 school year launched, educators ignited their work and came back together with business partners in November for “High Tea with T3.” During this after school event, school teams and business partners re-connected, celebrated successes, and planned for next steps. We envision additional connection opportunities throughout the remainder of this year.
Of note, this work is helping us increase the relevance of Individual Career and Academic Planning at the middle school level. Also, the Thompson School District (in partnership with Poudre and Estes Park) uses Xello as our college and career readiness software. This product allows businesses in Larimer County to partner with school districts electronically. Businesses can use the software to post internships, externships, and jobs… and students can connect directly with businesses through their Xello Profile.
For additional information, contact Tracy Stegall (firstname.lastname@example.org), Executive Director of Teaching and Learning; Andy Stevens (email@example.com), CTE Coordinator; or Susan Scott (firstname.lastname@example.org), Work Based Learning Coordinator– Thompson School District.