ConnectEd May/June 2017 - Page 2

2 Unique opportunity W hat is the value of education? That question could be answered several ways. One person might point to the federal or state funding given to schools while another might use the salaries graduates earn in their careers. But perhaps the most important measure is the impact on students’ lives through teachers, clubs and trade skills learned. Thanks to Rowlett High School, Class of 2017 graduate Nadia Andu will soon pursue a newfound career path. Moving to the area before her senior year, Andu always thought she would continue the family tradition of studying medicine. She planned to go to college and knew how important a well-rounded resume was to the admission process. But she did not have any clubs or associations to include. Andu came to RHS from private and charter schools where she did not have the opportunity to join these kinds of groups. At Rowlett, Andu chose DECA from the school’s numerous offerings. Little did she know, that decision would change her life. “Joining DECA helped me see what I was good at and impacted what I want to do in the future,” she said. “I’ve always thought about business, and having a business or nonprofit, but I didn’t know how to get into that and didn’t know much about it.” D ECA is a student organization that prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management. Andu’s participation not only gave her the inspiration to start a nonprofit that helps inner-city children but international acclaim, as well. Annual DECA competitions test members’ knowledge and skill. This spring, Andu reigned supreme d re a m c a re e r s ’ t d r ive s s t u d e n But quality instruction from at district and state contests in the Quick Service Restaurant Management category. She advanced to international competition in April where she was challenged to manage and market hypothetical business initiatives. This real-world experience will no doubt prove invaluable as Andu works toward her new dream. RHS teacher and DECA advisor Larry Wilson, as well as the opportunity to join more than 200 Career and Technical Education classes and clubs, can also be credited in part with her future success. In Garland ISD, the value of education is priceless, and its impact can be seen across the globe. What’s your #ChooseGarlandISD story? GHS, SMU partner for real-world engineering project Garland High School engineering students are experiencing real-world application, thanks to an initiative fueled by Southern Methodist University (SMU). The Smart Infrastructure Innovation Initiative (S3i) brings the high schoolers and their collegiate counterparts together to work on a city of Garland project. “We had an idea of trying to blur the lines between an engineering student in high school and an engineering student in college. We wanted to allow these two types of students to interact with each other and work on research projects that have significant value,” said GHS teacher Nicole Story. “SMU is researching structural impairment detection. We needed a bridge to work on, and the city was really supportive and wanting to participate.” A meeting with the city’s engineer led to the Briarwood bridge project. Throughout the year, GHS and SMU students met every A day to work on the assignment, conducting experiments using sensors, collecting data and recording their findings. Considering recent headlines about bridges collapsing, the project is both relevant and enlightening. “This brings the calculations we do in the classroom to the real world. Working on it makes us aware of how safe the bridges are,” said sophomore Randy Arias. “We are learning how to take data and how to apply that data to see if this bridge is safe for use. This project also shows us how to work as a team and work with professional colleagues.” Story hopes to expand S3i’s impact to nonengineering students, as well. The project produced a creative space in Story’s classroom named Innovation Gymnasium. “We want to open up this space before or after school and have students take ownership of it without the fear of failure,” Story said. “The whole motto of our Innovation Gym is, ‘I don’t know. Let’s figure it out.’”