THE CHALLENGE: In 2002, teacher Clay Mohr was trying to find a way to motivate a particularly challenging group of sophomore boys when he had the opportunity to bring a laser engraver into his industrial technology shop for six weeks. Immediately, the boys were engaged, wanting to know everything about how it worked and what they could do with it. This enthusiasm sparked an idea and a way to keep students engaged while teaching them valuable real-world skills.
THE CHAMPIONS: Teachers Clay and Julie Mohr (who teach industrial technology classes and art, respectively) work with students in their roles as designers, production workers, and managers while learning about the skills it takes to be involved in a successful business.
THE SOLUTION: Housed within Arnold High School, School House Graphic Products (SHGP) is both a self-sustaining company and a program of study, where students can get course credit for what they learn about technology, design, and business. In partnership with Mid-Plains Community College, students can even earn college credit through their involvement with SHGP.
During their one hour a day in class, students at Schoolhouse Graphics produce signage, trophies, and other products for paying clients, with all profits going back into the company for new equipment, technology upgrades, etc. Students involved in the program get paid, not with money, but with the grades they earn based on their performance, just as they would in another company.
One of SHGP’s biggest clients is the Sandhills Open Road Challenge, an annual event that attracts competitors from throughout the U.S. Students produce banners and signage, as well as the numbers that will be affixed to each car.
THE RESULTS: Community support for the SHGP program has been overwhelming, especially from parents who have watched their children become more confident, motivated, and responsible young adults. Parents cite responsibility, accountability and problem solving as just a few of the valuable lessons learned through SHGP.
Clay believes that empowering students to solve problems is the key. When a student was having problems with a piece of equipment, Clay gave him the technical manual and encouraged him to find a solution. After scouring the manual and not finding the answer he need, the student used his cell phone to contact the company’s technical support service and had them walk him through fixing the machine. At SHGP the teachers don’t simply provide the answers, instead they encourage students to use creative problem solving and external resources to find the answers they need.
Julie believes the confidence her students gain from their experiences with SHGP is one of her greatest rewards. Students leave class feeling confident that they are ready to take on any challenge.
RESOURCES: For more information on School House Graphics Products or to place an order, visit: http://apsserver.arnold.k12.ne.us/~shgp/Site/Welcome.html