If community members came together with educators to design curriculum, what might that look like? Look to Marion City Schools to see it in action.

The Power of Collaboration

If community members came together with educators to design curriculum, what might that look like?

In our Shaping the Future of Learning: K – 12 School-Based Education Strategy Workbook, one of the opportunities outlined for educators is to seize the possibilities that are made possible by personalized learning – not only for students, but for the community. Educators and civic leaders in Marion, Ohio are engaging in this work today in an effort to make Marion, Ohio the nation’s work force development capitol.

And they’re well on their way.

Beginning last year, KnowledgeWorks joined Marion City Schools in leading a design team, comprised of community and business leaders and educators, to address the concerns around workforce development in Marion. 60 percent of graduating seniors were not going to college, or entering into a career or the military – while 10,000 jobs were going unfilled in the region. The goal of the design team was, according to Amy Wood, Director of Educational Programs with Marion City Schools, to design curriculum that would be more responsive not only to student needs, but also to local business and industry needs.

Wood insists the open lines of communication have been what’s made Marion’s transformation possible. In addition to inviting the community into their decision-making conversations, administrators and educators from Marion City Schools make an effort to be active in the community, as well.

“We hold a seat on every board in the Marion community,” says Wood. “We serve other people’s missions and visions, as well as our own, and work to align others with our programs by maintaining an ongoing informal contract with our community.”

When students at a Marion elementary made a video asking the design team to think about what they were doing for their future, Marion rose to the challenge.

We made a promise that we were going to work together to be sure we had the right opportunities in place,” says Wood. “We wanted to make sure our students fit the portrait of the graduate we painted, that they had the right skills, knowledge and disposition to succeed.”

Today, the design team has transformed into an advisory council that has, among other things, developed three distinct interest clusters for students at their early college high school, and provides opportunities for teachers and community and business leaders to share knowledge and build curriculum together. In just one year, they doubled the amount of applicants to their early college high school, and both Jiran and Wood are excited for what the future holds.

“Collaborating with your community can’t be an afterthought,” says Nichole Jiran, Director of Teaching and Learning with Marion City Schools. “It’s built into what we do here, what we believe.”

Shaping the Future of Learning: K-12 School-Based Education Strategy Workbook helps educators to reflect on their own practices and future aspirations.

Interested in more actionable ways educators can shape learning with the community – and how your students can benefit? Download Shaping the Future of Learning: K-12 School-Based Education Strategy Workbook.

Jillian Kuhlmann

Written by: Jillian Kuhlmann

Jillian Kuhlmann is the Communications Specialist for KnowledgeWorks.

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