CTEC business leadership students work with business leaders in real-world projects
Oct 14, 2019 11:19AM
By Julie Slama
CTEC business leadership students practice presentations in a collaborative classroom setting before interacting with real-world business leaders. (Julie Slama/City Journals)
By Julie Slama | [email protected]
CTEC senior Jaxson Lloyd knows he wants to go into financial advising, but he also wants to get a solid education in business leadership. As a student in that program, he and his classmates will get some real-world experience while earning both high school and college credit.
“We will work with business leaders and learn from them about what they need, and then we will work together on their project and at the end, present it to them,” he said.
The business leadership program has gone through some recent revamping, from removing the cubicle walls to installing new furniture that allows collaboration and from completing mock job assignments to actually working with business leaders in real-world projects.
“For 48 years, Renee Pay ran this program, and when she developed it, it was very cool and kids have liked it,” said the program’s new teacher, Kimberly Simpson-Batey. “What we’re doing now is having students change their mindset, work with business partners and take ownership of their project.”
Simpson-Batey is working with the South Valley Chamber and others in identifying business leaders to work with students. After sending out a recent letter, 22 businesses responded saying they may want to participate.
Early this fall, she has been meeting with several area businesses who need projects done and determining their expectations.
“It might not be their No. 1 or No. 2 project, but one that is ninth or 10th on the list, one they never get around to, and they’re letting our students spend nine or 10 weeks with the project,” she said. “The students will meet periodically with the business leaders and get feedback. In the end, they’ll learn accountability as they present it to the business and stakeholders.”
These 50 students, who are mostly juniors and seniors and have already taken some high school business classes, will be able to select their small group projects. It could be a social media campaign, market research, digital marketing, marketing for volunteer recruitment or something else.
“It’s going to be an amazing experience for these students to go in and figure out what they need,” Simpson-Batey said, adding that there will be business mentors available to help students. “They’ll need to determine their clientele, research demographics, gather and analyze data, determine which media may work best to reach their audience, create a prototype — many real-world applications and possibilities.”
When students enroll in both semesters of the program, they also get the advantage of earning 12 college credits — Intro to Marketing, Leadership and Team Building, Small Business Management and Intro to Economics and Social Science.
Simpson-Batey said through this new format, students will make contacts in the business world that may help them with a future internship or lead them to a job, and they’ll receive feedback, as well. In addition to the final presentation, students receive peer reviews and educators’ review.
To prepare students for their projects, Simpson-Batey had students select a global goal, such as zero hunger, good health and well-being, clean water and sanitation, gender equality, affordable and clean energy, among others. Then, they needed to research, improvise a solution to improve their goal and present it to the class.
“I wanted them to take the initiative, figure out what they needed, follow instructions and take it up a notch, not be spoon-fed,” Simpson-Batey said. “They’ll need to do that when they meet with business leaders to meet their expectations.”
Canyons Career and Technical Education Director Janet Goble said this helps students better understand the career.
“It’s a capstone project, where students are accountable to business leaders, and they are preparing to enter the workforce,” she said. “They’re also learning soft skills and getting honest feedback from business and education leaders. It’s a great model where it’s more of a co-op learning style.”
Many students jumped at the chance to take part.
Senior Jonah Smith said it models the business world.
“We’re working on the project together and need to meet the businesses’ expectations, but we will be able to collaborate and network to make it professional,” he said.
Senior Joel Finlinson is looking forward to working with business leaders.
“It’s exciting to work with people in the field, not just be in the classroom, but to actually learn from those in the business,” he said.
Senior Shayan Samimi was looking forward to the classroom application into the project.
“It’s going to be exciting to solve businesses’ problems on their to-do list; it’s something real, and something I haven’t done before,” Samami said.
Senior Lole Taula said there also is the opportunity to work with peers on the project.
“CTEC brings students from all the high schools here who have the same interest and many who have the same experience to learn more about the field,” Taula said. “We also learn if this is what we want to do, and if it’s not, then we don’t waste money in college pursuing it.”
Senior Kendra Welch said it will give her and other students a launch into the world, if it’s something they choose to pursue.
“This project will give us a focus, a point to work on and help us take what we know and learn to prepare their project,” she said.
Senior Anthonee Ouk is ready to begin.
“It’s a privilege, a real opportunity in our district to have this real-world, hands-on head start to pursue a project in the business world,” he said. “It’s unlike any other experience I’ve had in high school. It’s exciting.”