In 2009, leaders at the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction set out to identify opportunities for new courses in the Career Technical Education (CTE) curriculum. They assembled a focus group of leaders from higher education and local businesses that identified project management as the number one skill set to add.
PMIEF provided educational materials and helped identify subject matter experts to assist in incorporating project-based learning into the curriculum. The first project management course launched three years ago. Today, Carol York, a teacher at Cary High School in Wake County, North Carolina, teaches a number of CTE courses, including Microsoft Office, multimedia/web design and, now, project management.
In Cary High School's semester-long project management course, students learn skills for success in the classroom, future careers and life. Through hands-on activities, they learn about the role of a project manager, teamwork, communication, effective leadership skills, group dynamics, identifying and understanding stakeholders, critical path method, and risk identification and assessment, just to name a few. She also helps them find real-world applications by using examples of things they've experienced, such as planning a birthday or graduation party, or an activity they're involved in elsewhere on campus, such as the yearbook or student council.
"The students are getting an opportunity to see how to manage all aspects of their lives. I am approaching this material as something they can use every day in everything they do," Carol says. One of her students, Sam, agrees. "I really like this class and the fact that if I can do it in here, I can do it out there," he says.
Carol says project management skills are exceedingly helpful for teachers as well. "We keep getting more and more students every year that we have to stay on top of, so running each lesson and the topics you teach as a project really helps you streamline, manage your timeline and assess the personalities of students to get them involved in what they are supposed to be accomplishing," she says.
Three years ago when the first project management course was introduced, there were 300 project management students across all of North Carolina's secondary schools. Today, those numbers have multiplied by five. And they're expected to continue to grow as more and more educators identify the learning opportunities inherent in teaching project management to young people.
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