National partnership helps Lakota launch new school-to-work program

One year after Lakota schools were chosen among a half-dozen districts nationwide to be an example of schools working to teach career paths to students, the school system is poised to launch a new program.

Lakota was chosen in June 2018 as one of six districts across the country to lead the “Real World Learning Challenge Collaborative” through the national Digital Promise’s League of Innovative Schools.

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For the past year, Lakota has worked to develop a platform that will give teachers and school administrators an avenue to make “real world learning” connections more easily, said Lakota officials.

Officials said the work done by the Challenge Collaborative has been compiled into a Real World Learning road map program to be launched in the first months of the coming school year.

“It’s a tool that helps teachers who would love to bring real world learning into their classrooms but aren’t sure where to start,” said Keith Koehne, executive director of curriculum and instruction at Lakota

“The website will have guides, lesson plans and resources to help teachers expand learning opportunities for their students and it will show how the work ties back into state standards,” said Koehne.

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Throughout the year, Lakota’s team has participated in monthly virtual meetings with the other members of the league school districts.

School officials said representatives from the League of Innovative Schools have held focus groups with the district’s teachers and students to gather feedback about how Real World Learning is impacting education.

“The work we’ve done in Lakota has shown that students are more engaged when real world learning is introduced,” said Koehne.

“Our goal is to take what we’ve learned this year and build it out for our kids,” he said.

Koehne said the new program will include introducing real world skills at the junior schools and continuing to incorporate learning opportunities such as guest speakers, project mentors and more internships at the high schools.

The program’s impact on students will be profound, said Matt Miller, superintendent of Lakota Schools.

“Our district leadership had already begun working on a plan to re-imagine the high school experience for our students,” said Miller.

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