PM Has Made Me “More Independent, Responsible and Organized,” Student Shares

 

17 May 2017

Kendra Modzelewski

Written by Kendra Modzelewski

Bayside High School  Social Entrepreneurship Trade Fair

Bayside High School students in the project management track participate in a Social Entrepreneurship Trade Fair, during which they market their products to peers and teachers.

Bayside High School is one of the largest career and technical education (CTE) programs in New York City, and has adopted what Assistant Principal Marc Cercone calls a “wall to wall CTE concept”, meaning every student chooses a CTE track.  Each year, about 140 Bayside students graduate from the project management track, having completed a full curriculum of project management courses with a unique twist: a focus on social responsibility. 

Many students who are interested in jobs in the nonprofit sector choose the project management track for its versatility.  Assistant Principal Marc Cercone explains, “CTE programs are aligned with professional certifications, but there is not an obvious certification for a student pursuing a career in the nonprofit sector.  Nonprofits span all kinds of industries.” 

As students develop through the program, the projects that they complete become more complex.  Freshmen, for example, complete a course called “Introduction to Project Management”, in which they design a school using 3D modeling techniques. Then, they develop a school curriculum to accompany their proposed building. By the time they reach their sophomore year, they are ready to complete the “Introduction to Nonprofit Management” course, and learn how to write a program guide, produce a play, and spend a grant. 

Junior and senior years bring “Social Entrepreneurship” and “Advanced Project Management”, respectively, and the projects continue to grow.  Juniors create their own companies and produce business plans and develop a product. Then, the students market their products to peers and school teachers. As seniors, students’ culminating project is an exploration of an issue impacting the community. They research their issue and develop some proposed solutions during the four-month project. 

Across all of the classes, students adhere to a project cycle, and utilize project management tools like Gantt charts and status meetings to keep on task. Student Brenda Young explains, “Gantt charts are an easy and efficient ways to keep things organized and know exactly what roles each group member [has].”

Bayside High School teacher Stephanie Fox explains that, while the projects themselves are valuable, the skills that are being developed are even more valuable for students.  “What we notice is [that] the students appreciate having a common language to get projects done together,” she explains. “The students are undertaking rigorous courses outside of their PM courses, and they begin to apply their PM knowledge in other arenas.”

Stephanie’s opinion is shared by some of her students.  PM-track student Katelyn Madera is already using her skills and understanding their value. “I can use project management skills when I go to college to balance having a part-time job and school. I can more easily organize and handle myself because I know what steps that I have to take to make something successful,” she shared. “And, if you look at it, almost everything we do is a project because everything we do has a specific start and end date.” 

Classmate Bibi Harrynam agrees that she will make use of the skills in the future. “Project management is something that just doesn’t stop becoming useful. You learn skills that you can apply to all parts of your life.” One example Bibi can think of is still a few years away. “In college, time management will surely come in handy,” she feels. 

Another common theme that students shared was increased confidence in their leadership and presentation skills. “Overall, taking this class has helped me to become more independent, responsible and organized,” shared one PM-track student. To bring project management to youth in your local community, consider using a no-cost resource from the PMIEF Learning Resources Library.