During the last several months we have been developing a program at Ilwaco Middle/High School called Ilwaco Industries, which is an opportunity for Ilwaco students to learn technical and business skills in real contexts by providing actual services to actual clients. Research shows that students perform better in courses that are relevant to their goals and interests. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Career and Technical Education classes in which students are developing skills and understanding that they can apply to real-world opportunities such as college and/or careers.
This program provides the opportunity for students to become entrepreneurs by learning a variety of business and technical skills. On the technical side, students are learning to screen print clothing, perform laser engraving, embroider garments using automated technology, design and print large scale posters and banners suitable for indoor or outdoor applications, cut vinyl and sublimate products (which is the art of applying full color images to soft or hard materials, such as clothing or ceramics).
On the business side, students are learning the basics of entrepreneurship, customer service, deadlines, supply and demand, inventory, budgeting, marketing, creativity, problem solving, team work, communications and leadership.
There are classes that exist in which students could learn each of these concepts separately but when they are combined magic happens. When students walk into the classroom (or ‘the Imaginarium,’ as we like to call it) they know that their only limitation is their own imagination. They are bound solely by their creativity, and if they can put their minds to it, they can accomplish it. To date, dozens of community members and businesses have taken advantage of our services to order products designed and developed by our students.
At Ilwaco, these skills are embedded in the curriculum of Career and Technical Education courses, as well as many other academic courses. But it is because these skills are couched in real-world applications that students are so willing to learn them.
For more information, read the Coast River Business Journal feature about Ilwaco Industries at http://www.crbizjournal.com/Publication/volume5/issue12/section4/article3085.