The way Chicago Technology Academy is improving graduation and college admission rates by incorporating internships and project-based learning as part of a turn-around strategy, according to The Hechinger Report.
The strategy includes internships offered through external partnerships with local businesses and public exhibitions of student projects to encourage creative collaboration and best efforts.
School director Linnea Garrett is also seeking to embed the learning of workplace “soft skills” such as collaboration, communication and a growth mindset in every grade level.
While some students love to pursue knowledge for its own sake or clearly envision a future including a college degree, many others are less engaged in the educational process and spend their time wondering why classes are relevant to their future at all. Some students are so locked into their own economic or cultural situation that it is hard for them to envision a future that includes anything more than a minimum wage job and a lifetime of poverty.
Internships help students envision their future by placing them in the thick of things. Once they are in the workplace, it is easier for them to see the relevance of what they are learning. As schools find ways to connect student passions to real-world situations, they inspire students to work harder, to set goals and to achieve greater heights for the future. The result for school systems can mean a more positive school experience, fewer discipline problems and better graduation rates.
President Trump’s recent endorsement of apprenticeships have put them back into the spotlight. More employers are seeing the wisdom of such internships because they can create a talent pipeline for future hires. Even if a student does not find employment at the place where they interned, they are still acquiring knowledge, experience and “soft skills” that will serve them well in future job situations.