Having spent the last two years as part of the NCI Deeper Learning team, Mark Lebar has taken that learning and let it really impact his practice. The tangible proof is in what he is doing with his 40S Business Management class.

At the end of last year, the Niverville Chamber of Commerce reached out to him about facilitating a partnership opportunity for the following school year.  Needless to say, Mark jumped at the chance. Presently his class is working with Big Way Foods and Ben Sawatzky Electric.  

Mark set about dividing his class into two design teams, and pitched each with the challenge of reimagining their given company.  From logo, to jingle, to website (and a number of other items in between), each team is responsible to work together and come up with a design product for their respective client.  

To work as a team though, the students need to consider just what being part of a team means.  “They initially find the soft skills learning uncomfortable,” Mark says. “What they come to realize, is that it is essential for their group, and the work being done, to thrive.”   The authentic environment is key to this. “We are only a few weeks in, and they are already understanding how essential these skills are.” What is equally impactful,” Mark states, “is when they begin implementing these skills in other classes, and even in their personal lives.”      

Both companies visited the school in early September to meet the students and to field questions.  Mark prepared his class for this initial meeting (the first of three), instilling within them the notion that they were the ones driving this meeting.  He would set it up, but it was on the students to facilitate the meeting and ‘make it happen’. What ensued was an hour’s worth of marketing pitches, that saw some ideas meet with customer approval, while others were straight out denied.  In the debrief afterwards, both teams felt that they had a new and better focus after having met with their respective client. Emails were exchanged between the groups and businesses, and now the real work begins.  

At the high school open house in September another local resident had the chance to talk with Mark about the Business Education class and what they were doing.  This same individual touched base with Mark shortly after about a design effort that he would be interested in having the students tackle.  

“I think I’ll use this new design partnership as a recalibration effort mid-semester.  It will be good for the students to focus on something else for a bit. It’s also great that it again has a real world, real client driven need.”  

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