How does collaborating with local Nashville businesses improve learning in high school?

Each academy is supported by two or more partnerships with local businesses, government agencies, or non-profit organizations.  These partnerships provide critical support to the academy teachers and students, and greatly enhance the learning experiences in the classroom.  The roles played by these organizations include consultations on curriculum, serving as classroom guest speakers, hosting class field trips, and supporting student job shadows and internships. An explanation of each of these follows.

Curriculum

It is important that the curriculum in the classroom reflects current business practices.  Business partners review the curriculum standards and offer suggestions on instructional strategies that enhance learning for students.

Guest speakers

As teachers review the standards to be taught in the career or thematic pathway classes, partners can be invited to classrooms to speak on relevant topics.  These speaking engagements provide students with real-world examples of what it might be like to work in the area being discussed. Contextualizing academic study within the economic and social life of the larger community enhances the learning process by showing students how their work in school will impact their future and the wellbeing of Nashville as a whole.

Real-world learning opportunities

The businesses partnered with the academies provide critical work-based learning opportunities that students say are the most meaningful parts of the academy experience.  During the sophomore year, classroom field trips are targeted to help students begin to understand what working in various careers is like.  During the junior year, job shadow experiences are targeted to give students a more in-depth understanding of different career areas.  Lastly, some students are able to experience internships with businesses during their senior year that give them a detailed understanding of what careers are like in that industry.

In summary, business partners play a critical role in the learning process.  Their role ensures that students will have an authentic exploration of the career area they have selected at their school.

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