Our work in the education field covers such a broad audience. One of our key goals is to ensure schools in the U.S. consider career-connected learning and employer perspectives in their efforts to prepare students for future success. And, there are a lot of stakeholders we need to engage. There are days the path seems far too littered with obstacles, which prevents deep connections among innovative teachers, students, and administrators at the leading edges of this work.
So you can imagine our joy when we got to spend three days in St. Louis with so many student- and career-focused educators at the CAPS Summer Huddle.
Stephanie Short, VP of Partnerships at America Succeeds, and Amy Kardel of CompTIA helped kick off the event on the first day as keynotes. They spoke to an audience well-versed in the importance of Durable Skills thanks to the leadership of Corey Mohn, CAPS President and Executive Director who has been a strong supporter of this initiative since its launch.
“Rather than teach the durable skills, we give them opportunities to practice them, to explain what they are, but then put them in situations where they’re going to be more successful if they lean into the durable skills.”– Jennifer Bauer, CAPS Business Development Specialist
Erik Lindbergh gave an inspiring keynote highlighting his own story of struggle that ultimately led to finding his passion outside of the classroom – and in the air instead, like his Grandfather Charles Lindbergh. Other keynote presentations included: Taylor Shead, CEO of STEMuli, who discussed their work making education engaging and accessible for all students through the metaverse; and Clint Robinson from Black & Veatch, who spoke about the numerous ways businesses can engage with education (and vice versa). As business leaders, there always seems to be a “10th thing on our to-do list” that continually gets pushed to the bottom, and Clint – a long-time supporter and advocate for the CAPS program – believes high school students across the country could be helping with that list!
We were also lucky to spend much of our time connecting with new and old friends alike. Our team interviewed some leaders on the prevalence of Durable Skills, who shared how these skills consistently show up in their career-connected learning programs. And, we got to connect with former and current CAPS students who spoke about how deeply Durable Skills has been embedded in their experience, and how that helped set them up for success as they looked towards their post-secondary plans.
“All these [durable skills] do come encapsulated through CAPS, and it takes a long time to learn them. It’s not something you’re gonna learn every night, but that’s part of the process.”– Conner Lotz, former CAPS Student, currently in Business Development at Boeing
Throughout the conference, many education leaders repeatedly mentioned the ‘big, hairy, audacious goals’ that we are all chasing. Said in jest, but meant with the utmost sincerity: changing the lives of every student in CAPS programs, let alone the entire American education system, is daunting. There are so many dots to connect along the way.
… And yet, surrounded by this group of motivated, intentional, and deeply dedicated leaders in the field, the path forward seems easier to navigate. Thank you to all of those leaders within the CAPS Network for inviting us to this incredible event, and clearing the way for others to follow in your footsteps!