Leadership magazine May/June 2015 V 44 No 5 - Page 36

Tips for connecting learning to career pathways Continued from page 25 with presenting the final design to industry executives. We all left the room that day tempered with anticipation and fear that without a prescribed structure in place, the students would struggle organizing themselves to tackle the numerous dynamics at play. Then it hit us all – this wasn’t simply an exercise in building a dream Supercross track – it was an exercise in leadership, organizational development and problem solving. In addition to the aforementioned survival skills, we had taken the eight standards for mathematical practice and applied them in an innovative and exciting way. Pedagogy to outreach: The industry The southern California region – especially the Inland Empire – is the cornerstone of the motocross industry. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, high school motocross 36 Leadership was a mainstay sport in local high schools. Through the 1990s, the sport continued to explode and with it, a wealth of industry surrounding the sport began to take root. In May of 2014, we reached out to industry executives. The first key contact was Nathan Ramsey, former supercross champion, and Jon-Erik Burelson from the KTM Corporation. In that critical meeting, we talked about the challenges that the motocross industry is having – namely, that the average age of a rider in the United States is 36 years old. This proved to be a major issue for the motocross field, as market sustainability is a primary concern with an aging population. Couple this concern with the expense tied to the sport as well as limited access, and it was clear that the industry was just as interested in engaging us as we were them. We discussed the wealth of opportunities that existed for students who wished to work within the industry beyond the aspirational racing side. Potential careers in marketing, engineering, communications, mechanics, sales, orthopedics, first responder, journalism, and photography existed – the pathways were endless. Curriculum integration The conversations continued throughout the year and culminated in November when all of the major manufacturers (Yamaha, Suzuki, KTM, Kawasaki, Honda) and the Motocross Safety Foundation convened at Riverside Poly. During that meeting, we discussed specific ways the sport of motocross could be integrated into the curriculum on a daily basis, as well as academic pathways that could benefit students in their preparation. In November, more than 80 students were selected to be a part of the Poly Motocross Project. We also invited 10 students and two teachers from our feeder middle school. The room was packed with anticipation as