Dayton School District is constantly finding new ways to take education to the next level for its students. Through the i3 Center and Innovate initiative, they have found that there is one universal value to create impactful learning: purpose. But what exactly defines purpose for a student?
Dayton’s i3 Center upgrades are in full swing this year for the school district, offering a Mechanics class like never before. With new instructor, Charlie Hascall, teamed with long-established agriculture teacher Mitch Coleman, the pair lead by example with unique and complementary skill sets. This collaborative hands-on learning opportunity is allowing Dayton students to study arts like welding and metalworking with a greater sense of direction than in previous years.
Earlier in the school year, C&D Landscaping contacted Dayton requesting a custom built trailer. They supplied Dayton with some of the pieces they would need to build it, gave them target dates, and visit regularly to check on their progress. C&D understands the value of real-life learning experiences. They have given the students work expectations, while also encouraging efficiency and good work ethic.
Through this learning experience, students are starting to develop valuable skills that extend far beyond efficiency and work ethic — skills that are important outside of school and in the new economy.
To work on this project, students are teaming together without the social barriers often found in high schools. Regardless of one’s identity, welding experience, or lack thereof, they are working to meet one goal that has become important to each and every one of them. They share one goal and the same expectations, as an interconnected team where everyone is valued equally.
Mr. Hascall works alongside the students as a mentor. While teaching Mechanics, he has found that what students really need for a project in his class to be successful, is some scrap metal and inspiration. Keeping this conviction in mind, many of his lessons are taught through example, to help give students a truly hands-on learning experience and allow them to be their own boss. He says: “I don’t make myself boss. I can’t teach like that.” It has become clear to Mr. Hascall that, by letting the students develop these projects, they’ve personally engaged in their work and seen the value in connecting school with local businesses.
Mr. Coleman says that students can learn all about mechanics in a classroom with paper and pencil and they may know the method — but there is no greater way to learn something than to apply it in a hands-on environment where students can become involved with the real-life experience.
This is the image of the i3 Center: through one long hallway, branches off different classes that have discovered their compatibilities and partnerships as the building has developed. In the metal shop, students are designing and building structures from trailers to fire pits. Next to it is Mr. Verdun’s innovation class where students are 3D printing, learning photography and design skills, and coding. Traditional arts meet with technology arts, making the i3 Center an important place at the school for students to create and experience making of all kinds.
Art and design, integrated with the skills of making, are becoming more valuable to future employers. To be able to combine media and modern design subjects with traditional art subjects such as welding, woodworking, and ceramics, Dayton students will be able to apply these experiences outside of school and find unique value in them. Dayton School District is giving students the opportunities to experience education from a lens that sees a world much larger than Dayton. This idea is what defines true purpose in a learning experience and it is what drives Dayton’s innovation.