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Students and Businesses Co-Design Solutions

Middle and high school students, under the guidance of their teachers, have teamed up with local businesses and organizations to tackle real-world challenges in business models and community development. The culmination of their efforts was showcased at the Community Exhibition held on Mar. 18 at the JE Broyhill Civic Center, where school teams presented their innovative problem-solving techniques, collaborative co-designing approach, effective team strategies, and successful outcomes in addressing workforce dilemmas and community issues.

“These opportunities through profession-based learning have provided an exceptional, collaborative experience for students, teachers, and businesses alike,” said Superintendent Dr. Don Phipps.

The Community Exhibition is a pivotal component of a two-year project funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) grant, which was approved in 2022. Titled “Co-Designing Profession-Based Learning in Caldwell County,” this initiative equips education, business, and community leaders with both technical and human skills necessary to prepare students for the challenges of life and the demands of the workforce. It fosters intentional collaboration among students, educators, and business leaders, enhancing a successful learning experience.

The collaboration between the Caldwell County Schools, Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute, and various community and business partners is supported by two nationally-recognized consulting groups, Open Way Learning and StrongLead, which have facilitated the professional and leadership development components.

The learning projects undertaken by students addressed trending topics and emerging issues pertinent to local businesses and organizations. Examples include devising marketing strategies with UNC Health, addressing the population decline of Caldwell County, preserving local history at the Caldwell Heritage Museum and optimizing talent recruitment at Granite Insurance.

Dr. Phipps emphasized, “This initiative represents more than just a singular learning experience for students; it signifies a transformative movement prioritizing the workforce in Caldwell County.”