School Business Affairs June 2019

28 JUNE 2019 | SCHOOL BUSINESS AFFAIRS Investing in the Future: Transforming Education A shift from teacher-centered to student-centered learning opened doors for this district’s students. By Justin W. Miller LEADING AND LEARNING S everal years ago, a survey revealed that stu- dents’ level of engagement decreased as they progressed through West Des Moines Commu- nity Schools. We knew we had to make some changes, to shift from a teacher-centered to a student- centered learning environment. As we gathered and analyzed data to explore this problem, local business leaders expressed their need for employees who could collaborate and problem-solve in the work environment as well as be creative, indepen- dent thinkers. A partnership with a nonprofit organization, New Tech Network, helped us advance our goal of implementing a relevant, student-centered learning envi- ronment that engages students and prepares them for the future. With New Tech Network, we were able to implement a project-based learning (PBL) approach to education that engages students in learning by doing— completing projects and solving problems that are rel- evant to their lives and that prepare them to become the kinds of employees our business leaders are looking for. Beginning the Transformation New Tech Network schools are characterized by a positive school culture that empowers students and COURTESY OF WEST DES MOINES (IOWA) COMMUNITY SCHOOLS