By Guest Columnists MISD Director of Secondary Learning Nikki Nix and MILE Administrator Shelle Blaylock
Innovation is more than technology. It is encountering real-world problems and solving them by thinking critically, ideating and reasoning. Innovation challenges the notion that “this is the way things have always been done” to find solutions that better serve people as their needs have changed.
Research shows that millennials will change their job 15 times in their lifetime. For students to be successful in this ever-changing world, we must provide students with transferable skills that are applicable across all industries and give students the opportunity to learn in a workplace environment. Real-world decision making where students are challenged to identify a problem, develop potential solutions and pivot to reevaluate when those ideas are not successful is a vitally important skill to master before leaving high school. The learning environments developed through Midlothian ISD Career and Technical Education programs do just that and foster multivariate thinking for students.
MISD CTE offers students courses in 13 of the 14 Programs of Study defined by the Texas Education Agency. Through these courses, students pursue their passions, investigate possible careers and learn transferable skills with the guidance of teachers, as well as business and industry mentors and curriculum coaches. These professionals share relevant field experience and provide valuable insight into careers for students.
With the renovations to the original J.R. Irvin building, MISD CTE is upping the ante for both students and business partners. The newly named MILE (Midlothian Innovative Learning Experience) is a state-of-the-art educational hub that will provide flexible learning environments that reflect current industry and workplace environments. The structure of coursework will allow for business and industry partners to serve as mentors and curriculum experts directly from the field.
These learning spaces will replicate that of the real world. Culinary arts students will work in an industrial kitchen operating a bistro that is open to the public. Cybersecurity students will hold class in a fully functional lab with routers and switches working to prevent hacking and practicing technical skills in securing data. Aerospace and civil engineering students will have access to a student-centered maker space filled with both high-tech and common materials and tools. And entrepreneurship students will thrive in the INCubatoredu curriculum where they work to develop solutions to products and services missing from our community, create a business plan and pitch their product to a Board of Investors, Shark Tank-style!
Jason Jacobus, Executive Vice President at Buckley Oil and Co-Community Champion, says it best, “We can’t be passive community members. We are not self-made. We are products of the efforts of those that come alongside us. [Students’] success depends on our involvement.”
Are you a business and industry professional that would like to get involved as a mentor or curriculum coach? Reach out to Nikki Nix, Director of Secondary Learning for more information (firstname.lastname@example.org).