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Partnering Students with Industry Mentors to Solve Real-World Problems

Spark! Technology Solutions is one of seven experiential learning strands available to high school students in the Parkway School District in Chesterfield, MO – a suburban district outside St. Louis. This program allows students to solve problems using digital technologies and connects them with industry mentors who provide guidance, connections, technical expertise, and support throughout the course. Each mentor works for a local business or company that partners with the school district to create authentic, real-world experiences, providing students with the skills and dispositions to lead them in future work. Through these community mentors, students can connect to industry professionals, gain experience in professional settings, and find solutions to real-world problems by harnessing the power of modern technologies while recognizing their role as creators and collaborators to bring digital solutions to their community. 

Unlike a typical class, students determine what skills they want to focus on and design their learning to develop a deep understanding of a specific field of interest. Over the year, students can explore and find their passions in topics like video production, app development, graphic design, cybersecurity, web development, game design, and many more while completing real-world projects and learning the soft skills highly valued by employers. While technology is critical to the program’s success, students say the partnerships and connections make a unique experience that shapes their trajectories in life and future work.