Lee's Summit R-7 School District
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LSR7 Real World Learning: Planning to Heal (Our Schools Magazine February 2021)

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

Dera Okafor, a student at Lee’s Summit West High School, is using LSR7’s Innovation Track program as a stepping stone to fulfill her dream of working in the medical field.

The dual enrollment program gives students the opportunity to attend the Metropolitan Community College-Longview Campus to earn high school and college credit. Interested in skincare and the brain, Dera has several course options to help her navigate her path toward becoming a doctor.

Experiencing a global pandemic is an unusual way to test one’s commitment to enter the medical field, but COVID-19 did not discourage her as she watched doctors in the spotlight.

“They really became to me like stewards of life,” Dera says. “Not only were they helping the sick but they were providing everyone with essential information on the news. I think it put into perspective what I wanted to do with my life after this whole pandemic was over.”

Dera says she would tell her younger self the program suits her.

“This is a great opportunity for me to learn and just grow as a critical thinker, as a person in love with learning and wanting to grow as an individual,” Dera says. “I would say this is the best opportunity for you.”


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.