Clearinghouse for Work-Based Learning connects educators, businesses to benefit students

Iowa's Clearinghouse for Work-Based Learning is helping students apply what they're learning in school, to the real world.
Published: Oct. 9, 2023 at 8:31 AM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Iowa’s Clearinghouse for Work-Based Learning is helping students apply what they’re learning in school, to the real world.

“The Clearinghouse is a virtual space for businesses to connect with area students on an authentic, relevant project,” said Laura Williams, Clearinghouse for Work-Based Learning Coordinator at AEA Learning Online.

In 2021, that meant creating chicken cabins in building trades class at Solon High School. Keith Duster was the teacher at the time and thought it would help students learn to work with local businesses in more ways than one.

“The Hope was that the students would learn some basic personal interpersonal skills. How do you call a Lumberyard? How do you call anybody? How do you have a conversation and ask questions and get answers that our informational right? That’s a seems like a simple skill, but it’s something that a lot of people maybe need some practice at,” Duster said.

Students worked with Gordon Lumber Company in Mount Vernon for building materials.

“They asked me to get involved with this. So it’s kind of a no-brainier. That was fun to help out with,” said Tim Gordon, Owner of Gordon Lumber Company.

Students chose the model of chicken cabin they wished to build. They also worked with Solon Feed Mill who could give feedback on what type of coop could accommodate a smaller flock of chickens, and connect the product to a customer.

“I think it’s just going to be something that you just got to get the communication between the teachers and the businesses. And once we do that, then the rest is history and you know, it’ll be a it’ll be growth for the kids and that’s what’s important,” Greg Kuennen said, Manager at Solon Feed Mill.

The Clearinghouse is a space where projects like this begin.

“The Clearing House is a great opportunity to make it very, very easy for educators and employers to connect. So sometimes you don’t know the right person to reach out to you don’t know who at the school would be your contact. So the Clearinghouse makes it a One-Stop shop,” said Jen Boyd, Future Ready Curriculum Consultant at Grant Wood Area Education Agency.

It’s a free platform schools and businesses can use for a variety of work-based learning projects. Those interested can check out the Clearinghouse website or get in touch with their local Area Education Agency.