On Friday, September 17th, The EdVenture Group, Inc., along with partners from the West Virginia Department of Education, Marshall University, and West Virginia University that form the West Virginia Entrepreneurship Education Collaborative (WVEEC), co-hosted the inaugural Classroom2Career Summit. This hybrid event was held virtually and on location in Huntington and Morgantown to showcase emerging projects in entrepreneurship education and work-based learning being implemented across the state.
Dr. Lydotta Taylor, President & CEO of The EdVenture Group, welcomed participants to the event and introduced Mr. Clinton Burch, Senior Officer of Technical & Adult Education at the West Virginia Department of Education. Burch’s visionary leadership led to the collaborative efforts being highlighted, including the launch of the state’s first formal entrepreneurship pathway. Burch introduced the Summit’s opening remarks, including Mrs. Gayle Manchin, Federal Co-Chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission, Senator Patricia Rucker of the West Virginia Senate, and Mr. Scott Rotruck, Member of the West Virginia Board of Education.
“As a true believer of life-long learning, this is an exciting project to be involved in,” said Federal Co-Chair Manchin. “The West Virginia Entrepreneurship Education Collaborative is the perfect example of a partnership that is working to prioritize work-based learning and entrepreneurial experiences in West Virginia for our West Virginia youth.”
Following opening remarks, Dr. Taylor highlighted the work of the WVEEC and its origins. “We are very appreciative of both institutions and the partnership,” said Taylor. “This is a collaborative team that is working to design the future of entrepreneurship education.”
The A New Direction for Entrepreneurship Education session highlighted the development of the state’s first entrepreneurship pathway, introduced by EdVenture’s Manager of Innovation, Amber Ravenscroft. This four-course program enables students to go from ideation to actualization and launch real businesses during their high school experience.
The pathway focuses on building entrepreneurial mindsets, tools and strategies, and experiences for students. The pilot schools for this initiative include James Rumsey Technical Institute, Mingo Central High School, Randolph Technical Center, Spring Valley High School, and Wheeling Park High School. WVEEC partners, Tricia Ball of Marshall University and Tara St. Clair of West Virginia University, highlighted available resources and ecosystem supports, including advanced credentialing, immersive events and activities, and statewide competitions.
“We are really moving the needle with entrepreneurship education and work-based learning initiatives in West Virginia,” said Ball. “Just as the lean startup methodology tells entrepreneurs to “get out of the building,” we are getting students out of the classroom and into these immersive experiences where they can innovate and apply what they are learning in really tangible ways. These experiences will prepare them to go on to solve great challenges, whether it is for a company they work for or one they start themselves.”
Building on immersive experiences for students, WVDE’s Alyssa Keedy-White introduced the state’s new Classroom2Career Initiative. Through the development of a new, user-friendly platform, the state is prioritizing work-based learning and providing students and educators a “one stop shop” for all things work-based learning. The Classroom2Career Navigator platform helps students explore, engage, and track their career learning, career preparation, and career experiences. “We want to be able to expand partnerships and experiences for our students,” said Keedy-White.
Throughout the event, the importance of partnership remained a common theme. To engage the audience, the Summit concluded with facilitated breakout sessions to ideate around a thought-provoking question:
“How might we continue to support West Virginia youth in work-based learning opportunities?”
Led by members of the WVEEC, breakout sessions developed a repository of ideas to build upon, including:
Intrapreneurial experiences for students through partnerships with local businesses/entrepreneurs
Entrepreneurship “rotations” or micro-learning opportunities
Expansion of internship, apprenticeship, and mentorship opportunities across all industries
Upskilling teachers through entrepreneurial experiences
Clarification and common language around work-based learning
Flexibility and choice in educational pathways
Expansion of remote education opportunities
These ideas and continued collaboration with partners across the state will guide programmatic decisions and future opportunities for West Virginia youth. In addition to brainstormed opportunity, the WVFEEC presented tangible ways to engage with the effort moving forward, including: 1) register as a guest speaker for a classroom, 2) serve as a mentor for students, 3) connect schools to stakeholders in a local community, and 4) offer internship or apprenticeship opportunities.
The Summit wrapped up with closing comments from Burch. “I would love to see these partnerships grow and expand. We are simply just scratching the surface here in West Virginia,” said Burch.
To watch the full Classroom2Career Summit, visit https://youtu.be/Z9dgd1RaW-k. For more information on the pathway or to get your organization involved, contact Manager of Innovation, Amber Ravenscroft, today at firstname.lastname@example.org.