New district partnership connects students with construction, marketing professionals

This spring, the Gresham-Barlow School District launched a new pilot project to engage students at all grade levels by partnering with the bond construction firms in an educator- industry exchange. This innovative new program is designed to provide increased collaboration between students and construction crews while ensuring that students receive not only updated learning environments and safety improvements but also an increased awareness of potential career opportunities.  

The program has two stated objectives: to allow teachers and industry partners to integrate career exposure into academic programming, and to establish mutually beneficial partnerships between education and industry, which together build workforce development opportunities.  

Gresham-Barlow School District’s Career and Technical Education Coordinator Sarah Dorn played a leadership role in putting this program together.

“The framework really focuses on an exchange between industry and teachers,” Dorn said. “Students are benefitting and our teachers and industry partners are benefitting as well to create and develop the curriculum.”

Students at Powell Valley Elementary School helped Fortis Construction staff design a bench – Fortis staff and students will construct the bench this June. (Photo credit Katrise Perera)

The pilot project has included students at all levels of education across the district. Students at Powell Valley Elementary School were visited by staff from Fortis Construction and asked to design a bench to create an outdoor learning space on the school campus. Students presented their ideas at “Pitch Fest” this past April – the bench will be constructed at an upcoming event this June.

Meanwhile, students at Gordon Russell Middle School (GRMS) have worked with Fortis Construction staff to model and design a house. Four designs by students will be created in a software program allowing students to virtually explore the plans in 3-D.

GRMS STEM Teacher Greg Gonzalez thought that students benefited from the opportunity to apply the skills they use in the classroom to potential real life jobs.

“You never know how a project like this will impact the developing minds of young students,” said Gonzalez. “The seeds of interest that are planted in a project like this may grow into future career and life choices that will impact them for years. My students were granted exposure to possible career choices. Is there a future architect or trades worker in my class? The quality of projects that the students produced suggests that there is some true potential out there.”

Students from Barlow High School’s Marketing class visited the Lease Crutcher Lewis office this April.

Lease Crutcher Lewis partnered with two different classes of students from Sam Barlow High School. Students in Barlow’s marketing class visited the Lease Crutcher Lewis office in downtown Portland this past month and designed storefronts for future businesses, while students in the CTE construction class toured the Barlow construction site several times and assist with pouring concrete.

Dorn is thrilled with the success of the program, and noted that she especially enjoyed watching Powell Valley students collaborate with Fortis’ staff.

“Students worked in small teams to design benches, and watching them present their projects was incredible,” said Dorn. “They were professional, the drawings were amazing, and everyone was blown away by what students can accomplish when we give them opportunity and resources.”