The PMI Educational Foundation (PMIEF) and the Partnership for 21st Century Learning (P21) have collaborated since 2014 for a multi-year initiative called “Communities in Conversation.” PMIEF’s US$ 475,000 grant to P21 funded the creation of a toolkit that helps integrate project management into secondary schools as well as a series of community conversations about how best to prepare students for post-secondary success. The PMIEF – P21 initiative has led PMI Metrolina Chapter members, who have volunteered at SBHS for the past few years, to teach a project management class at South Brunswick High School (SBHS) in Southport, North Carolina, USA.
P21, the leading organization bringing business, education, and policymakers together around the shared goal of students’ 21st century readiness, created Bringing Project Management into the School Transformation Conversation in 2015. The comprehensive toolkit helps project managers and education stakeholders lend support to strengthen secondary school teaching and learning so that young people graduate ready for college and career. It offers strategies for integrating project management into secondary school curricula, identifying those who can support these efforts, and determining the community resources necessary for school transformation. It also features project management and project-based learning resources for educators as well as highlights exemplary programs, schools, and school districts across the U.S.
In addition to project managers, grant-funded community conversations during the 2015-16 school year included teachers, students, school administrators, and business professionals to strategize ways to prepare young people for the 21st century world of work. Dialogues occurred in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA, Davenport, Iowa, USA, and Oxnard, California, USA, during which stakeholders developed plans to support the grant’s goals. P21 issued a request for proposals following the conversations and awarded mini-grants to schools willing to implement those actionable plans.
PMI Metrolina Chapter at SBHS
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction has long been committed to integrating project management into its career and technical education curricula, including through standalone project management classes at SBHS. The school’s Project Management I teacher contacted the PMI Metrolina Chapter after she launched the class a few years ago to request members deliver guest presentations, review students’ projects, and serve as mentors. For Joseph Arancio, PMP, the opportunity proved ideal. “I’ve always believed that project management can help high school students, especially since many of their assignments are projects,” he explained.
Mr. Arancio, an Osmine Senior Project Manager at Ericsson, Inc., began volunteering at SBHS two years ago. The chapter’s commitment to SBHS is why members recommended an innovative solution when the Project Management I teacher transitioned to another position. The school originally planned to cancel its spring 2017 Project Management II course to ensure a teacher for the spring term of the Project Management I course, but chapter members volunteered to co-teach the latter with a long-term substitute teacher to prevent that from happening. “I was at a meeting with P21 about the PMIEF grant when the SBHS principal mentioned canceling the class, so [PMI Metrolina Chapter member] Ron Ciavolella, PMP, and I offered to coordinate a team of project managers to teach PM fundamentals if the school could provide a certified substitute teacher,” he said. “This is exactly the kind of stakeholder involvement the P21 toolkit that PMIEF funded encourages.”
Chapter members taught the class of 10th-, 11th-, and 12th-grade students five days a week in spring 2017, using the state’s curriculum in addition to leveraging PMIEF resources like Project Management for Career and Technical Education. Students who enrolled in Project Management I for two semesters beginning in fall 2016 completed an event planning project and a formal study of the project’s risk. Spring semester students completed a group dynamic project and studied work breakdown structures, network diagrams, critical path method, and Gantt charts.
SBHS Project Management II teacher Terry Walker could not have been more thankful for chapter members’ support. “They helped problem-solve an unexpected challenge to ensure students received this important instruction,” he said. Mr. Walker has also leveraged Project Management for Career and Technical Education and plans to participate in PMIEF’s new digital badging initiative, a proof-of-learning assessment that gauges the depth of students’ project management knowledge. His class, which received the P21 mini-grant funds, applied its project management knowledge to help execute “Ride the Tide,” an annual kayak race in Oak Island, North Carolina, USA. In addition, students led a household goods collection project to support families suffering food insecurity. As Mr. Walker explained, “the complexity of this outreach project to help those in need in our school district will allow us to implement it as our signature project for several semesters.”
For more information about PMIEF and its no-cost educational resources, please visit www.pmief.org.