Careers in the Classroom
How TVHS Is Creating The Next Generation of Business Professionals Through Project-Based Learning and A Little Something Called “Ikigai”
On a cold February morning, over one hundred Tech Valley High School students are driven onto the SUNY Polytechnic Institute CNSE by buses from over 30 different school districts. Alongside students and their teachers are business professionals prepared to present to the students. Why? Tech Valley’s business partners have a very special role in the students’ education. During this week, their purpose is to help students discover their Ikigai: a Japanese concept meaning one’s “reason for being”. An ikigai is the intersection between what one loves, is good at, can be paid for, and what is needed in the world. Tech Valley suspends classes for 1 week each year, during which students attend exposiums, paideias, and field trips that expose them to a plethora of careers. This period of career exploration is called “I-Term” and concludes with a day full of presentations from every student. From gallery walks and elevator pitches to pecha-kuchas and TED Talks, the students master their unique presentation to perform in front of their teachers, peers, and business partners. Juniors and seniors have the opportunity for in person field experience with a business partner. In 2023, students learned with the following companies: Tokyo Electron (TEL), Albany City School District, NYS Executive Chamber, Leet Cybersecurity, Columbia County District Attorney, Ellis Hospital, The College of St Rose, Kingston Hospital, Adirondack Studios, Union College, CPL Architecture and Engineering, Albany Patroons, Catapult Games, OverIt, SUNY Poly, Columbia Physical Therapy, Renaissance Strategic Advisors, Aviation Schools QSM, Vistrada, RI, Schenectady County Airport, Hinman Straub, VoyceMe, Albany County Sheriff, and SUNY Schenectady.
This is not unusual for Tech Valley, as the Project-Based Learning allows for every class to involve several projects where students collaborate with business partners and each other to solve a challenging task using what they learn and perform a unique presentation with their team. Whether it be a courtroom trial, debate, scientific model, or school-wide carnival, the whole school comes together to celebrate the hard work and success of its students at the end of every project. It’s a truly novel approach to education that leaves students graduating with a passion for their newfound Ikigai and all the skills needed to thrive and excel in the workforce.