Lee's Summit R-7 School District
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LSR7 Real World Learning: Building a Construction Career (Our Schools Magazine February 2021)

Colton’s story is part of a feature on Real World Learning in LSR7.

Colton Owen, a student at Lee’s Summit West High School, will be a year ahead in his career before he graduates high school.

Colton launched his career in construction through the Skilled Technical Sciences pathway of LSR7’s Career and Technical Education program, which arranged for him to attend the Herndon Career Center.

Connected to a paid internship in the summer heading into his senior year, he earned an apprenticeship in carpentry with E&K of Kansas City. In addition to finishing school, he is framing walls and hanging drywall.

“I liked that it’s all hands-on,” Colton says. “I don’t really see myself as someone who could work a desk job.”

Colton’s work projects include renovations to the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum and a new cancer treatment facility.

“It’s nice having the opportunity in the first place because I bet a lot of kids from other school districts wouldn’t even have the opportunity to get real-world experience and have a job like this,” Colton says.


LSR7 students grow through advanced learning and hands-on professional experiences in programs such as Career and Technical Education, Innovation Track, Community-Based Instruction, the Missouri Innovation Campus and International Baccalaureate.

Now, through a new initiative and partnership with the Kauffman Foundation, the district is making significant strides toward providing “real world” learning experiences to its entire student body.

The goal of the metro-wide initiative, called Real World Learning (RWL), is for students to graduate with at least one of these experiences: internships, client projects, industry recognized credentials, dual college credit and other entrepreneurial opportunities across a range of interests, industries and employers.

Community connections are an essential part of this important work to prepare today’s students to be leaders in our future workforce. When employers give students opportunities to work in business/industry, students connect to the core principles and skills being taught in our classroom. Employers get early access to talent through interacting with students on projects or internships. RWL experiences help employers build their hiring pipeline, especially in high-demand industries. Visit lsr7.org/RWL to learn more.