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WHS CTE Presents at CDE Work-Based Learning Incubator Series

The Westminster High School CTE department was asked by Kelly Mitchell, Consultant for the Colorado Workforce Development Council & Colorado Department of Education, to present on our Industry-Sponsored Projects (ISP) at their monthly Work-Based Learning (WBL) Incubator Series. The series highlights innovations in instruction designed to increase work-based learning experiences for students that are taking place across Colorado.  This invitation to present celebrates the work our teachers and industry partners have engaged in this year to provide students with the opportunity to be a part of projects that are truly industry-relevant.

This year, each CTE pathway collaboratively planned an Industry-Sponsored Project with their Advisory Board partners.  This process began last fall when our industry partners helped our teachers identify a question, challenge or issue that they currently face.  Once the driving question was identified and the project was fully developed, key industry partners served as project mentors throughout the unit.  These units not only help to address a current industry issue, but they also embed industry-relevant math and literacy skills while students attempt to find a solution to this real-world problem.  Finally, the projects culminate with our industry partners collaboratively assessing the final projects and providing feedback to students on their proposed solution.  

Projects ranged from Business & Marketing students supporting local businesses who have been impacted by Covid through social media to Biomedical Science students working to address a critical need in dementia care treatment.  Scott Troy, Biomedical Innovations teacher, also took part in the WBL presentation.  Students in his classes are working with industry partners (both in the dementia care and dementia research industries, as well as college student peer mentors in the biomedical science) to create, test, and refine a biomedical innovation that would improve outcomes for patients with dementia and their caregivers. Students worked in groups to research a particular issue within the dementia care or research industry, and then used the design process to develop an innovation to improve outcomes related to these issues. These student groups developed a portfolio to document their innovation process and will present their innovation and portfolio to their college mentors and industry representatives near the end of the school year.  The benefits for students are that they simulate the process of biomedical innovation (both the rewards and challenges) as well as the "soft skills" necessary for success in the medical field. They also benefit from the mentoring process as they refine their innovation and learn to give and accept feedback. The benefit for industry is that the college mentors develop and refine their leadership and mentoring skills (for the college mentor partners) and the dementia care and research industry is developing awareness of dementia in the next generation of medical professionals as well as engaging with students in the process of developing innovative solutions for a complex medical issue. 

As you can see, these types of projects engage students in work-based learning without ever having to leave the classroom.  The engagement with industry partners to solve for a real-world challenge brings levels of engagement that are unparalleled.  Even with the need to switch to remote last fall, students were able to continue to collaborate with project mentors and other students to continue work on their projects.  Some teachers saw almost 100% engagement while remote, which in and of itself is a true accomplishment.  The top 3 student projects for each pathway, as determined by the evaluation process between teachers and industry partners, will be recognized at the upcoming WPS Celebrating Excellence (CE!) ceremony on April 15th.  This spring, we will reflect on the projects at our spring advisory board meeting to celebrate successes, address any concerns, and plan to do it bigger and better all over again next year.  Thank you to all of our industry partners for your support in this effort.  Our students will graduate better prepared for the world of work as a result of these industry-sponsored projects and your guidance!  

Two WHS students working on project     Two WHS students working on project.   

Pictured left to right:  Omar Alvarado, Cristian Cordova Gallegos, Jacqueline Palacios Cota, and Daisy Nunez