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Lisd Finds Success with Partnership Program

Body language expert Leo Cardenas, left, shows Lewisville High School students on how to greet people for a job interview.

When Lewisville ISD hired Lindsay Ayers a year ago as director of strategic partnerships, the goal was to establish strong connections in the business community to better serve students.

With a year of work complete, the district is looking back at how successful the initiative has been.

“This year was a strategic move to look to (businesses) for intellectual capital,” Ayers said.

Ayers said there are four types of partnerships she is striving for between LISD and the business community – relational, reciprocal, intellectual and authentic.

During a recent school board meeting, Ayers discussed the relational efforts that took place during the school year. Among those was increased involvement with local municipalities and chambers of commerce.

“One of the key things is there needs to be contact in the community,” Ayers said.

She said that helps enhance a database of contacts.

“If a school or teacher asks if I know someone, I either know someone or know someone who knows someone,” Ayers said.

The district hosted Howdy Partner events that helped form bonds with the business community. There were two events – one on the east side of the district and one on the west side. Ayers said that gave district and business leaders a chance to see how they can help each other, but with one stipulation.

“All of the ‘asks’ of businesses had to be related to intellectual capital,” Ayers said. “We could not ask for sponsorships or money of any kind.”

Ayers said 80 businesses attended the Howdy Partner events and that there was great feedback from them.

LISD also hosted a realtor breakfast to establish a relationship with the real estate community.

“Often they’re the first touch point with the district with new families, so we wanted them to be well-armed and well-informed,” Ayers said.

Ayers said the partnership has also taken a reciprocal approach. That has included internships for small businesses, which she has promoted throughout the community. She said at least eight businesses have benefited from work students have done for them.

Ayers said she helps craft the framework of the internship opportunities and then sends that out to each principal.

Ayers said job placement has been another way LISD can provide a reciprocal benefit.

“We have helped multiple businesses find students they need,” Ayers said. “It’s a huge benefit for the kids to get those opportunities at the high school level.”

She said students have also used their video skills to help businesses that need help with marketing.

Ayers said the intellectual approach has been crucial in LISD’s new partnership efforts.

“We want to eliminate the question of ‘why are we learning this’ on behalf of our students,” Ayers said.

LISD has spent the last year doing that in several ways. In early June, the district hosted the Bosch STEM camp in which 90 students from a low socioeconomic background participated in a five-day camp performing STEM activities.

LISD was one of six districts chosen to participate in Tech Titans, in which students got to work on STEM projects to help prepare for future workforce needs.

The district has also begun a Foster Grandparent program at Lewisville and Parkway elementary schools where residents ages 55 and older spend 15 hours a week helping students with school work.

The district has also taken a more targeted approach on guest speakers.

“It’s not just for the sake of having a guest speaker,” Ayers said. “It’s for when the teacher says, ‘I need these specific TEKS covered.’”

Lori Walker, president of the Flower Mound Chamber of Commerce, said the program has been great for all involved.

“This has been a very good partnership from the chamber standpoint and the business community standpoint,” Walker said. “Businesses bring in their top executives and share with the district what’s needed to guide students into the workforce.”

Ayers said authentic partnerships is another component to LISD’s ongoing efforts.

The Superintendent Business Advisory Council was set up to talk to 20 area business leaders about what their needs are.

“How can we ensure what we’re doing on this side of the workforce is what they need later on?” Ayers said.

Those business leaders provided presentations to 800 students across the district this past spring that touched on how to win a job and how to keep a job.

Walker said she spoke to leadership classes at Marcus High School about the process of applying for a job.

“Sometimes these skills aren’t taught,” Walker said. “Everything is so competitive now. So how do you stand out?”

Ayers said LISD hosted multiple career day events that included 84 mock interviews and feedback from professionals.

LISD also hosted a body language presentation in which 175 students at Lewisville High School learned how to present themselves.

“This has been a very good partnership from the chamber standpoint and the business community standpoint,” Walker said. “Businesses bring in their top executives and share with the district what’s needed to guide students into the workforce.”

Looking to next year, Ayers said she will continue to expand the district’s database. Tech Titans will focus on job shadowing for high school students and various experiences for middle school students.

There will be a partner liaison on each campus to help focus on partnerships and encourage bringing in industry experts. An emphasis will be in the field of law, an area that is lacking in regard to student involvement.

There will also be career day events at each campus.

Walker said this partnership effort is a way businesses can give back.

“Some smaller businesses may not have the same things they can contribute, but they can partner with a smaller school,” Walker said. “They can offer resources or fundraising. There’s not one business that can’t be part of educating kids.”

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