Community Connections Office - Real World Learning
Ashburn, VA
Loudoun County Public Schools
Support & Sustainability

Community Connections Office

The Community Connections office provides opportunities for valuable enhancement to our education programs by connecting what students learn in the classroom to authentic, real world experiences. By creating educational partnerships with shared values and objectives, our community directly impacts student success and promotes our mission to empower all students to make meaningful contributions to the world.

Connections to Real World Learning Roadmap

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Loudoun County Public Schools is developing a robust network for students, parents, and staff to access real world learning opportunities. By increasing teacher awareness about how to promote community partnerships and connections, we can support students to participate in PBL projects, internships, job shadowing, and guest speakers sessions. Through these programs, students develop skills, link curriculum to the professional world, and improve their outcomes.

Implementation: How We Did It

Creating meaningful connections between teachers, schools, and community partners is key to the success of our Real World Learning program. Different schools are equipped to implement projects in different ways, so involving all of our stakeholders in the decision-making process helps to streamline implementation. We developed a Community Connections office that works to develop relationships with community partners in order to facilitate real world learning experiences. We also hold a Community Connections Project-Based Learning (PBL) workshop that allows community partners to connect with teacher teams to effectively organize real world learning experiences that benefit all stakeholders. There is an application process that is required to participate in the workshop. Our hope is that tracking goals for teachers and businesses will help create a database that informs us of which goals and partnerships worked best.

Additionally, we created a school-business partnership with the goal of having this team develop and strengthen partnerships between local partners and our district. This partnership spurred additional communication strategies for RWL between schools and businesses. In addition to creating and sustaining partnerships, training is critical. We work with instructional facilitators in order to train teachers on implementing PBL. Having key members from our leadership team deliver workshops is helpful in showing district commitment to our initiative and promoting staff buy-in.

Related Resources

Community Partners
Professional Learning

Community Partners

There is a broad range of ways to collaborate and develop relationships with community partners. Their participation could be as simple as a student coming one day to experience the workplace setting, coordinating a demonstration at a school site, or hosting a long-term internship. For our purposes, we have developed a Community Connections office to develop relationships with community partners to facilitate real world learning experiences. We set up our PBL events for teachers in a few schools to make sure that it works effectively. The Community Connections PBL workshop allows teachers and businesses to clarify goals and expectations. Providing this collaboration between stakeholders helps set expectations and promotes healthy, sustainable partnerships.


Students link classroom learning with real world application of the concepts being taught by connecting with qualified specialists in specific fields of study which align with classroom curriculum. Connections occur through internships (paid and unpaid), job shadowing, and guest speaker sessions, allowing students to explore their passions and make informed decisions regarding their careers. We believe that increasing teacher awareness of promoting community partnerships and community connections will expand student participation in real world and virtual opportunities.


To measure the impact of this initiative, we look at the amount of partnerships co-designed during workshops and how many of our school leaders have engaged with real world learning. To date, 100 percent of Loudoun County school leaders have participated in real world learning and six partnerships have been co-designed during community workshops.

Professional Learning

To help train teachers on PBL implementation we follow a modified version of the Gold Standard PBL model from PBLWorks. Then, we enlisted the help of our instructional facilitators to implement the training in specific schools throughout the district. We also developed a website with real world learning resources for teachers. The website reinforces the topics covered at PBL workshops and generates interest from other teachers to facilitate real world learning sessions in their classrooms.

Support Structures

In order to support communication, our district prioritizes the use of social media and has a dedicated television channel to broadcast news to the residents of our districts. Digital storytelling is our most valued currency.

The Future of this Work

While we currently connect with many local businesses, we would like to streamline our onboarding process for partners so that we can maximize the number of partnerships and subsequent real world learning opportunities available to students. This will allow us to tap into the different job types in which students may want to participate.

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