VANTAGE is an innovation project of Minnetonka High School. In this unique new program, students work with a project team to solve real-world problems and learn about the challenges of project-driven work. Under the direction of a licensed teacher and in partnership with professionals, these project teams strive to make a contribution to a partner-defined project while gaining invaluable experience in today's marketplace.
Working with local partners, Minnetonka teachers are transforming the high school experience. With a foundation of concepts taught in traditional, required and elective courses, this project-based curriculum addresses employment gaps within existing professional environments, preparing today's students for tomorrow's high-skill, high-demand careers. This program introduces highly-motivated high school students to potential career interests before applying to colleges (and subsequently paying tuition). The hands-on experience gained in VANTAGE gives students a chance to figure out if certain career options are a good fit for their passions. Our partners benefit from the relationships they form with these young people due to the infusion of creativity and enthusiasm into a current project, as well as in developing their future workforce.
Today's parents understand the challenging realities of the marketplace and want to give their children the best possible preparation for career and job satisfaction. Current data shows that over half of all college graduates are either unemployed or underemployed (not working in their area of preparation). VANTAGE strategically positions Minnetonka High School students by not only preparing them for future employment, but by building early relationships that will benefit students in their post-college career search.
Minnetonka VANTAGE students will build a competitive high school transcript and college application that demonstrates both Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate coursework and real-world application and experience. It is the combination of advanced coursework and real-world experience that will open doors for young people in the evolving college landscape and developing new economy.
The VANTAGE experience
In VANTAGE, students spend half of their school day on location in their selected area of focus. Students make a commitment for the year. In groups of 20-25 and under the direction of a licensed teacher, students study the unique needs of the corporate partner and engage with mentors and project managers as they learn about project-driven work environments. Students are expected to meet the standards for professional conduct while on location and benefit from the daily interactions with employees that support the partnership. In addition to the partner-directed work of the project teams, students gain a deep understanding of the partner's corporate mission and learn about the future of their chosen field.
The vibrant Twin Cities marketplace offers a wide range of community-friendly professional partnerships who understand the benefits of positive relationships with local schools and school districts. The VANTAGE Program provides a much deeper and more meaningful experience for corporate partners than what is typically available in the area of school-business partnerships. The innovative reputation that our District has earned as a leader in public education provides a strong foundation from which to build. The relationships forged in this new program will not only earn respect and admiration from the community at large, but these corporate partners will help redefine the traditional high school experience for our next generation of learners.
Proof of concept
In our search for innovative programs that better prepare students for the changing economy, we found Blue Valley Public Schools, Center for Advanced Professional Studies in Overland Park, KS. The visionary work of the Blue Valley staff has produced clear evidence that this experience-based model can provide a mutually beneficial partnership between schools and local businesses. In fact, the business community in Overland Park has identified this program as a valuable asset, resulting in a strong local footprint and an extensive list of partners and mentors wishing to affiliate with Blue Valley's story of success (www.bvcaps.org).
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4350 Baker Road
Minnetonka, MN 55345