Located in southwestern Ohio, Lakota Local Schools (LLS) serves the townships of West Chester and Liberty in the suburbs north of Cincinnati. The eighth largest in the state and the largest in Butler county, our district serves 16,700 K-12 students and prides itself on a graduation rate of 98.8%. LLS includes six early childhood schools, eight elementary schools, four secondary schools, two high schools, two freshman campuses, and one Career Readiness Academy. We are the largest employer of the two townships with 1,700 educators and support staff. 100% of our students have access to high speed broadband internet, and 20% are economically disadvantaged.
The economy of the area relies on manufacturing jobs, featuring big name companies such as BAE systems, GE Aviation, and Procter & Gamble. To support economically promising industries, we strive to prepare each of our students for one of the 4Es: Enrollment, Employment, Enlistment, or Entrepreneurship.
To augment the traditional educational model, LLS provides a variety of extracurricular activities, internship opportunities, makerspaces, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Applied Arts/Design, Mathematics, and Medical) labs, and a host of rotating special elective courses which allow students to explore their passions. Our STEAM labs are available for grades 1-12 and they are specifically designed to prepare students in these promising careers. The curriculum demonstrates the importance of these fields and links classroom lessons with real world applications. At the high school level, opportunities for internships, externships, and summer programs are available in the fields of business, education, government and politics, marketing and communications, healthcare, and transportation systems. Additionally, the district’s strong partnership with Butler Tech provides students real world learning opportunities in the classroom in areas such as engineering and biomedical sciences.
In 2018, we joined Digital Promise’s Real World Learning Challenge Collaborative program to support our goals of student participation in real world and virtual learning opportunities by connecting students with qualified specialists in specific fields of study that align with classroom curriculum.
We have used our participation in the Challenge Collaborative to accelerate our efforts to support teachers and administrators facilitating Real World Learning (RWL) sessions. 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,” said Keith Koehne, Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction at LLS. The ultimate intention is to develop systems for teachers to explore and try out models of RWL. With this strong foundation, our next phase will require developing our systems, incentivize RWL for teachers and “Brokers” (business community liaisons), and create support from community buy-in.