Diverse Real World Learning Initiatives - Real World Learning
Liberty Township, OH
Lakota Local Schools
Support & Sustainability

Diverse Real World Learning Initiatives

Lakota has multiple different initiatives driving Real World Learning, with a large portion of district-wide engagement being co-curricular experiences for students.

Internships & Co-ops
Internships and co-ops place students directly into industry facilities, either through engagement in extended and intensive job shadowing activities, project-based work for the company earning credit on the student transcript, or in the case of co-ops, paid work for the company. These experiences provide students with industry experience, allowing them to ‘test drive’ a career path prior to post-educational pursuits.

Internships and co-ops are flexible to companies, and are brokered based on the mutual needs of the business partner and district objectives. The classification for each experience is dependent on multiple factors for consideration.

Guest Speakers & Curriculum Supplements
Teachers and building administrators are encouraged to invite industry professionals into their buildings regularly. Industry professionals can be connected to teachers based on curriculum relevancy or as desired. The Strategic Partnerships Coordinator collaborates with the teacher on desired engagement, then connects guest speakers appropriately. Logistics for the visit are coordinated by the teacher.

Job Shadowing & Career Exploration
Students can have the opportunity to spend time with a professional in a variety of careers, should the position be appropriate for students to be on-site and able to be in the environment. These experiences can be arranged by need, or on a wide-spread intentional basis. Job shadowing days are one-time off-site visits and include follow up activity or a check-in assignment that is turned in for accountability.

Events are another way to expose a large portion of students to many different opportunities in industry. Some events are hosted internally, while others are hosted by outside organizations and are held off-site.
Examples of in-house events include:

  • 4-E Lunch & Learns
  • STEM Day
  • 4-E Day College, Career, Military Expo
  • Industry Speaker Series
  • Adulting 101 Series
  • Junior High Careers Fairs
  • Sophomore Job Shadowing Day
  • Passion Project Day
  • Business Partner Breakfast

Connections to Real World Learning Roadmap

Select a roadmap destination to learn more.


The district defines Real World Learning as any and all in-class or extracurricular experiences and engagement for students that facilitates learning about industry expectations, careers, professionalism, and executive functioning skills. While broad in basic definition, the focus is on experiences that relate academic content to real-life application, providing students the connectivity of concepts between in-class learning and post-educational life expectations.

The intent of embedding Real World Learning throughout multiple facets of learning is to help reflect the district’s “Portrait of a Lakota Graduate,” preparing students for any and all challenges that they may face on their post-high school journey toward Enrollment, Enlistment, Employment, or Entrepreneurship.

While many aspects of Real World Learning are specifically student facing, supporting teachers on this journey is essential to success. The key to reaching the district Real World Learning goals is providing support teachers and administrators in facilitating Real World Learning into everyday practice. In particular, we are trying to help teachers who would love to bring Real World Learning into their classrooms but aren’t sure where to start. We want to develop systems for teachers to explore and test models of Real World Learning.

Implementation: How We Did It

Key teams are established to assist in planning and building all of our real world learning initiatives and events. The curriculum team works to find best-fit opportunities to integrate events into our academic courses. In most cases, the success is contributed to an ‘all in’ attitude from our building planning teams, teachers, and business partners who collaborate to ensure great events and activities for students.

The Strategic Partnerships Coordinator is primarily responsible for brokering and executing supplemental events, internships, and co-ops with the support of building personnel to deliver information for participation to students and families. Local industry partners have been extremely willing to engage with the district to find best-fit collaborations. This buy-in has been the impetus for the formation of great events and partnerships to generate new programming for students.

Related Resources

Community Partners
Professional Learning

Community Partners

The first thing we did was to hire a Strategic Partnership Coordinator, whose primary focus is to match the needs of both the Lakota Local School District and our Community Partners. Some notable organizations that we’ve connected with include West Chester Township, National Inventors’ Hall of Fame, and the Boys and Girls Club of West Chester and Liberty.

In addition, the district has forged a strong relationship with our local Chamber of Commerce, and actively participates and provides district representation at their functions. This allows district representatives to create new connections for the initiatives we have underway.

Having a point person who creates links between industry and education is essential to keeping relationships active and moving the work forward. Establishing mutually-beneficial relationships enhances our district’s ability to be creative and arrange the most engaging opportunities for students.


After an initial assessment, we determined that more across-the-board engagement with Real World Learning was essential to the success of our students. We expanded internship opportunities for students at the high school level to reach more industry areas of interest. Additionally, we increased the number of in-house events at both the high school and junior high levels to expand industry exploration to topics students may not typically ‘opt in’ for based on their presumed previous interests.

In-classroom engagement at the K-12 levels included presentations from event planning experts, marketing professionals, magazine editors, athletic trainers, architects, videographers, photographers, and local government officials just to name a few. These guest speakers were brought in to serve as subject matter experts to speak to students during a project, supplement an academic area of study, or assist teachers to create new classroom activities. Cyber security mentors worked one-on-one with students to evaluate their learning and review industry best practices to ensure that they are learning the most up-to-date information to increase their marketability for the workplace.


Measuring Real World Learning can be a challenge, as most of the positive impact is not necessarily quantifiable. Though we can count the number of events, meetings with prospective business, hours spent working with students, etc., the feedback from participants is our best measure.

After each Real World Learning event or engagement activity, business partners and students take a survey (written or verbal) about their experiences. The overall feedback is typically positive and sometimes includes suggestions for constructive adjustments for future events. The overarching theme from business partners is that they want MORE events, and students generally walk away saying “I didn’t know that before!”. That is a win to us.

Professional Learning

We have used our participation in the Digital Promise Challenge Collaborative to accelerate our efforts to support teachers and administrators who facilitate Real World Learning (RWL) sessions. We hired an Innovation Specialist to advocate and support teachers as they navigate RWL implementation experiences. As with any new practices in school, teacher approval and implementation is vital to the success of our plans.

We plan to expand professional learning for teachers to encourage the expansion of RWL in our buildings. During our in-district PD days, we share intentional information, activities, presentations, etc. to demonstrate the message and impact of RWL and provide teachers with some starter tools, such as the Digital Promise Roadmap. Additionally, the district participates in a Chamber of Commerce initiative called Chamber U that brings 15 district teachers and students into local area businesses to learn more about in-demand industries and careers.

Support Structures

We believe that great ideas often fail because there is not adequate community and teacher buy-in. While committing to Real World Learning sounds simple, the program must be prioritized; otherwise, it can negatively affect the outcomes of students’ RWL experiences. To promote buy-in, we coordinate monthly meetings to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that we are successfully fostering community engagement in advancing practices. Finally, securing the funds to assure the program runs smoothly will increase RWL outcomes and reinforce the program’s mission.

Our Strategic Partnership Coordinator is also responsible for leveraging grant resources and demonstrating that district partnerships are effective ways to improve business workforces. Having a counterpart at the Chamber of Commerce helps link the school district to other funding sources.

The Future of this Work

We plan to build out 1300 internships per year by developing support structures with the cooperation of local businesses, organizations, and governmental partners. The Real World Learning Roadmap, which we helped to create in the Challenge Collaborative, will provide a resource for teachers to develop programs and sessions that will enhance student outcomes.

Our next phase will require developing our systems, incentivizing RWL for teachers and “brokers” (business community liaisons), and creating support from community buy-in.

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