By Susan Miller

Missourian Staff Writer

Washington School District staff members participating in the Pathways for Teachers program toured several businesses in St. Louis Monday as they seek to integrate new ideas into the curriculum to ensure students are college or career ready when they graduate.

A kick-off event for the new program was held earlier this month. Teachers, counselors and principals representing each building in the district are participating.

The program is being funded through a $21,777 grant from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Superintendent Dr. Lori VanLeer said the program will provide opportunities for educators to connect with business and community partners.

“It’s about teaching the teacher to prepare students for what’s next after they graduate,” she said.

In today’s world, VanLeer said students must be able to communicate in multiple ways, critically think and problem solve. This project will help teachers as they work to become creative lesson planners and facilitators, she said.

On Monday, staff members visited Asynchrony Labs, an information technology consulting firm which specializes in application development, mobile computing, systems and sensor integration enterprise architecture and tactical collaboration.

The group also toured the TechShop and CIC St. Louis all located in the Cortex Innovation Community, a 200-acre innovation hub of bioscience and technology research, development and commercialization, serving as the anchor for innovative startup programs and established companies.

The tours were very informative, VanLeer said.

“It was a great opportunity to see all of the innovation going on in the St. Louis area,” she said. “The Cortex district is really an efficiency model where companies can share or use equipment through a corporate membership.”

The next activity for Pathways for Teachers will be school visits, mostly likely in the Kansas City and Springfield areas. These visits will occur sometime after the first of the year, VanLeer said.

The group also visited LMI Aerospace in Washington.

VanLeer said the ultimate goal is to integrate some of these new ideas into the curriculum all while expanding the leadership capacity of staff.