Eden Prairie High School (EPHS) is looking for community volunteers to help create meaningful learning experiences for students in its capstone classes.
Capstone classes are centered on helping students experience what a career in that field might be like. They are a key part of completing one of the high school’s five career-focused pathways, which help students explore their interests and guide them in their course selections.
For each of EPHS’s 10 capstone classes, the school is looking for guest instructors, site visits, project partners, mentors, and advisory committee members.
Karen Brettingen, industry partnership coordinator for Eden Prairie Schools, said she sees that students become energized when they meet with people who work in the industries they are studying.
“It’s just fun to see them get excited,” she said. “They do that certainly in a regular classroom, but I think that when they’re working with people who are passionate about what they do, it happens much more quickly.”
Some of these volunteer roles require specific industry experience. For instance, a builder, CAD (computer-aided design) expert, interior designer, and architect are currently needed to share stories about their career journeys for the high school’s Advanced Woodcrafting class.
Other volunteer roles, such as in the iOS Mobile App Development class, simply need good listeners who enjoy solving problems and finding creative solutions to help students assess whether their apps effectively tackle targeted solutions.
The school is also looking for community members to host site visits at their workplaces, including at software development companies and research and development labs.
Brettingen said these experiences are incredibly valuable and inspiring to students. “We’ve had students go out on a job shadow and when they come back, it’s like this huge lightbulb goes on.”
She said these experiences are also helping students connect in a more meaningful way to their foundational coursework.
“When students connect to their future, the present becomes a lot more important,” she said. “Now all of a sudden, kids think, ‘I want to go into marketing, so it matters that I’m good at math.’ Because in marketing, you’re dealing with a ton of numbers.”
Brettingen stresses that volunteers don’t need to be longtime experts in their fields in order to inspire and teach students. “What our students hear from a new graduate who just started in a field is incredibly valuable, as is what they hear from somebody who’s got 40 years of experience in a field,” she said. “We love diversity of experience.”
Brettingen is hoping a wide range of people from different backgrounds and with different levels of industry experience will volunteer with capstone students. “We’re really looking for diversity in our volunteers, since we want to be sure they’re reflecting our students,” she said.
How to get involved
Brettingen said anyone interested in volunteering can contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. She also encourages community members to share these opportunities with friends, family, and colleagues who might be a good fit.
Here are the immediate projects for which the high school needs volunteers:
Home Building Panel (builder, CAD designer, interior designer, architect)
The Advanced Woodcrafting class will be building kitchen cabinets as part of their coursework, and instructors want to introduce students to building-related careers in addition to carpentry. They are looking for a builder, CAD designer, interior designer, and architect to be part of a home building panel. As a panel member from 8:30-10 a.m. Thursday, March 2, visitors will give a 7-10 minute introduction of their career journey and then an overview of their career in residential building. Students will be prepared to ask questions after the introductions. Sign up in the SignUp Genius.
iOS Mobile App Development showcase members
Students in the iOS Mobile App Development class are developing their own mobile apps. Volunteers are needed to listen to their ideas and help them understand if they are solving the intended problem. Volunteers DO NOT need to know anything about mobile app development. The time is from 8:30-10 a.m. on March 15, April 20, and June 1. Volunteers may sign up for one or all in the SignUp Genius.
iOS Mobile App Development guest instructors and site visit locations
This course seeks to introduce students to software development career opportunities with a guest instructor and a site visit. If you’re interested in speaking with the class or hosting a tour at your workplace, contact Brettingen.
Science Research & Design site visit locations
The Science Research & Design students are interested in visiting research and development labs to learn more about career opportunities and the research environment. If you work for a company willing to host a group of students, contact Brettingen.
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