Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Valley Classes Meet Cubs Owner
A two-hour rain delay didn't wash out the tremendous experience that Valley teachers Ben Rogers and Darren Parker arranged for their students on April 22 in Chicago. Thanks to contributions from the community and alumni, the Sports and Entertainment Marketing and Accounting classes didn't just go to a Cubs game -- they got a business seminar from owner Tom Ricketts.
First things first … Tippecanoe Valley has a Sports and Entertainment Marketing class? How unusual is that?
“It’s a year-long Career and Technical Educational (CTE) class, with vocational funding from the state,” says Rogers. “Darren and I took some classes at Bethel for our endorsement, and we met a teacher from Concord who had done a sports marketing class and suggested a book for us to use.”
Rogers, a Fort Wayne Northrup graduate who got into teaching in 2007 after starting his career in the business field (after a series of 17-hour days on the road away from his family, he says he thought “if I’m ever going to do this, I’d better do it now.”), expanded the concept to encompass entertainment marketing as well.
This year they’ve used video-conferencing technology to have “guest lecturers” like the Chief Marketing Officer of ASCAP, as well as the Vice-President of the pro football Hall of Fame. The class posted a video of a conference with video game designer Gabe Newell on YouTube and got 108,000 hits.
Parker, who is a ’97 Valley graduate (and son of former teacher and coach Jon Parker), teaches accounting and web design classes under the CTE program, and estimates that 75 to 80% of his accounting students will go to college. But college prep isn’t the sole goal of the program.
“The state is asking schools to put students on career pathways, thinking about careers as freshmen,” Parker says. “The goal is for them to be marketable in the workplace, OR qualified for college.” He cites other offerings in Facility and Mobile Equipment management, and entrepreneurship skills.
A scheduling innovation lends extra flexibility to the efforts of CTE teachers to create unusual learning experiences. Instead of following the same schedule of seven equal periods each day, Valley follows a traditional seven-period schedule on Monday, Tuesdays, and Fridays. Then on Wednesdays, the four “odd” periods (1st, 3rd, 5th, and 7th) meet for 90-minute sessions. On Thursdays, the three “even” periods meet for 90 minutes, leaving an extra 90-minute period for student resource time or to allow clubs to meet during the school day.
And the entire school spends 15 minutes “every single day” on silent sustained reading.
Rogers used a little extra ingenuity to set up the Chicago trip. After an initial email to the Cubs marketing department to explore a behind-the-scenes tour got a tepid response, “I just ‘guessed’ at the email addresses for other people in the organization, and sent the same request.” Within five minutes, the Chairman, Tom Ricketts, responded, and cc’d the marketing department. Ricketts offered to meet with the class before the game, provided them with vouchers for souvenirs and refreshments as well as a ticket discount, and arranged for them to have their picture taken on the hallowed (albeit wet) grass of Wrigley before the game.
To complete the experience, the two classes took busses to Chesterton, then rode the South Shore and the Red Line to Wrigleyville. “A lot of these students had never been out of the area, let alone on a train.” They topped it off with dinner at Giordano’s.
The tickets, travel and meals were provided at no cost to the students or the school, thanks to gifts from Kosciusko County Community Foundation, BNW Industries, Nelson Beverage, Splendor Boats, Lake City Bank and Lake City Group, Symmetry Medical, Newlin Associates, and Warsaw Area Career Center, as well as individual contributions from Charles Smith, Rick Moriarty, and Greg Hoover.
Posted by Valley Alumni at 8:56 AM