Work Based Learning a positive for CW Schools

By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer

Education in Canal Winchester has traveled far beyond the traditional three “R’s” of yesteryear into varied opportunities for success, not only in the classroom, but beyond the doors of the school.

“Success doesn’t just mean academic achievement,” Canal Winchester High School Principal Amy Warren said during the March 21 Canal Winchester Board of Education meeting. “A lot of things go into it to define success for each individual child.”

Part of that success is innovation and Canal Winchester Local Schools is tackling the issue on many fronts, including Work-Based Learning which, according to Word Based Learning Program Coordinator Kristen Ankrom, is a sequence of experiences designed to provide students with real-world learning through partnerships with local business and industry.
WBL activities help young people explore careers and choose an appropriate career path and is part of the high school’s effort to redesign the educational model.

“We started this process with the Ohio Department of Education and Johns Hopkins in 2019,” said Ankrom. “We were their first cohort to look at high school and what we need to do about it. A lot of the things we’re doing this year are part of our high school redesign process. We work with them and look at how we do business at the high school. How can we make things better?”

The process focuses on providing opportunities for innovation within the current schedule. It builds capacity for new learning platforms and courses and Johns Hopkins is highlighting Canal Winchester’s work with other districts nationwide.

Ohio Department of Education representatives plan a spring visit to the high school to get a firsthand look at the Portrait of a Graduate period as well as a student showcase of the creation of readiness demonstration videos regarding the state’s Graduation Requirement Seals.

The high school was also invited to share its work with ODE and Johns Hopkins Cohort 2 High School Redesign in May.

As part of the redesign, high school students went through the 2022-23 registration process earlier this year, including the opportunity to choose classes in a block or non-block format. According to presenters, overall, it appears underclassmen generally prefer non-blocks while upperclassmen prefer block classes in science and English and online elective options.

A career expo was held in the high school gymnasium and attracted more than three dozen business partners.

“We haven’t had one for a couple of years because of COVID, so we came back in a big way,” said Ankrom. “We had 40 businesses representing several different businesses including skilled trade and health care. From those 40, 20 were new partnerships. The relationships and partnerships help us create Work Based Learning activities. All 40 businesses were willing to work with our students.”

In the high school’s on-site Canal Creations Lab, students are creating and producing signs, banners, tumblers and apparel using wide format printers, vinyl cutters, a heat press and an engraver.

The long-term goal for the lab is to have high school students design and create most of the merchandise sold in the school’s Canal Corner and be able to offer print/production services including screen printing and embroidery to students, staff and the community at discounted prices.

Other CW school news
Canal Winchester Schools Treasurer Nick Roberts presented a handful of potential long-term projects in the district’s capital spending plan, such as an addition to house full day kindergarten classes, increased gym space at the middle school, a performing arts center at the high school and a new building on the middle school grounds.

“This just preliminary,” said Canal Winchester Schools Superintendent James Sotlar. “We’re going to get with a company to get a master facility plan to get a better look at everything in our buildings and where we need to go in regard to this, but we really have to start planning.”

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