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TAF Academy included in programs to be studied for best Career Connected Learning practices

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TAF Academy will be included as one of 21 chosen career-related programs in Washington state to be studied by the state’s Workforce Board and Washington STEM for their best practices in Career Connected Learning. As a selected program, TAF Academy will receive a $15,000 Learning Lab grant.

Career Connected Learning, or CCL, focuses on STEM learning that extends beyond the classroom and will prepare students for success on the job and in the world. As defined by Washington STEM, career connected learning is a “continuum of awareness, exploration, and work experiences developed through strong public and private partnerships.”

TAF Academy, a 6th-12th grade public school located in Kent, WA, is the first of it’s kind. Co-managed by the Federal Way Public School district and Technology Access Foundation (TAF), students learn in a unique model coined the STEMbyTAF way. Although project-based and STEM focused, learning at TAF Academy extends well beyond the walls of the school. Most of the students are engaged not only through school work and classroom exercises, but also are involved in out-of-classroom experiences.

Take for example the Expedia/Coding Dojo Challenge where students spent the past summer learning how to code from Coding Dojo experts and have been provided industry mentors from Expedia to help guide them through a special project they will complete with their teams throughout the school year. Other examples include our TAF Academy Fred Hutch interns, our Youth Leadership Program (YLP) students who are working alongside the International Living Future Institute (ILFI) on regenerative design and sustainable systems, and our group of students who are participating in the homeless housing project challenge in March of 2017. The list goes on and on.

We strive to connect our students with the industries they are passionate about and to then provide them with mentors within those industries so that by the time they graduate from high school, they already possess working knowledge of the fields they intend to enter in and feel empowered because they’ve been already been working alongside professional helping to solve real problems. They will already be a part of the communities they seek to penetrate – not just onlookers.

All the programs involved in the assessment serve young people ages 16-29 and focus heavily on STEM. In May 2017, TAF Academy will join the rest of the Learning Lab programs at the Governor’s Summit to share its successes and how approaching education with a STEMbyTAF perspective can yield positive results across Washington state if adopted by more school districts.

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