Brandon Frantz and some of his classmates at McArthur High School were asked to complete a project that would benefit the school.
They discussed some possible projects and soon realized that the school’s band needed better instruments. So they worked together to apply for a grant from the Holland Opus Foundation to help the band purchase the new instruments. They were in the ninth grade at the time.
“We worked on the grant and sent it in. There were many other schools applying for the grant. We knew we were close to getting the grant when people from the Foundation contacted us. When we received the money, it was a good feeling,” said Frantz.
The band received a $35,000 grant from the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation and was able to buy new instruments. Now a junior and a member of the baseball team, Frantz is hoping for a career in aviation.
He is part of the Linking Education and Employment Outcomes at McArthur High School. There are about 400 McArthur High School students involved. The goal of LEEO is to connect what students are learning in high school with what they will need to know to be successful in the workforce.
“We are working to bridge the gap between school and the workforce,” said William Wilson, who teaches Honors World History and Introduction to Information Technology. “We will show how the material we are teaching in our courses can be applied to the business world.”
Sarah Beauchamp, who teaches Honors English looks for ways to show students how the business world works in her classroom. “I teach soft skills. I have students work in groups on projects where they have to learn to work together to accomplish a goal,” she said.
LEEO is more of an overall philosophy toward educating students to be prepared for the business world. “We want students to know what the business world is like. We bring in mentors to show students what will be expected of them in a business environment,” said Wilson.
Business executives have been invited to McArthur to critique the business plans of LEEO students. The executives will show the students problems with the business plans and how they can be improved.
And LEEO students will receive actual skills. They can receive industry certifications showing they have mastered office computer technology. They can learn robotics, how to develop computer games, coding and other high technology skills that are in high demand. They can learn about computer aided design. Students can the basics of law enforcement or they can become skilled in various health care occupations. The can also learn about horticulture. Certifications in these areas can lead to high paying jobs.
“When a LEEO student graduates, they can have four to six industry certifications,” said James Elder, association principal at McArthur. “These certifications can become college credits. Some of the skills our students master can lead to jobs that pay as $40,000. Our students are ready for work or college.”
The LEEO program is an innovative program that has proven it can engage students in areas where they have strong interests. And it is helping them develop skills that are in demand.