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The Power of Partnerships

[January 2015] -- As an organization intent on blending college preparedness and real-world readiness for students, one of the principles Da Vinci draws upon is borrowed from author Ken Blanchard, "None of us is as smart as all of us."

The power of partnerships was in full swing earlier this month as all 81 of Da Vinci's K-12 teachers and counselors fanned out across Los Angeles to visit some of our industry partners' businesses to better understand the knowledge and skill sets students need to know to ensure success in the 21st century workplace. These visits were part of Da Vinci's winter professional development for teachers focused on project planning and providing authentic examples in a real-world context.

Da Vinci staff visited industry leaders, including Belkin, DIRECTV, Gensler, 72andSunny, OMD LA, Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic, USC Institute for Creative Technologies, and YouTube.

Exploring Virtual Reality at USC Institute for Creative TechnologyTeachers went on tours, studied how professional workplaces are run, and learned what our partners look for in entry level hires and interns. Da Vinci teachers also had an opportunity to brainstorm with industry professionals on how to make their upcoming winter projects more real-world.

Nathan Kim and Yun Day of Gensler shared that when looking at prospective employee resumes and portfolios, Gensler is looking for employees who can tell a story about themselves, their skills, and their aesthetic without using words. Gensler interns spend half of their time working in a hands-on, creative studio environment and the other half working on a passion project that they design and build.

Ben Abt, Group Director at OMD LA, shared that the advertising agency looks for new hires who are competent and dependable. Abt said that internships are invaluable to gain experience, open doors, and acquire strong references. He said students should know Excel, Javascript and basic coding, and be proactive and enthusiastic.

Gensler LAAt USC's Institute for Creative Technologies, teachers explored virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and other immersive media for military training, health therapies, education, entertainment, and more. Mark Bolas, Director for Virtual Reality Research at ICT, shared that "passion is everything." He looks for people who are comfortable working in the worlds of science, engineering, art, and design, and who have a high tolerance for ambiguity. "Everybody is exceptional -- they just need to find their passion. In today's world, you must be really good at something."

At Da Vinci, our industry partners play a vital role in our quest for a real-world connection so students are prepared with real skills for real jobs. This concept lies at the core of everything we do. Some problems such as closing the skills gap are simply too complex to solve with any one approach. Bridging this gap and others through innovative partnerships is a particular focus of Da Vinci Schools.

We are deeply grateful to Belkin, DIRECTV, Gensler, 72andSunny, OMD, Kerlan Jobe, USC Institute for Creative Technologies, and YouTube for opening their doors to us. These visits were a huge gift to Da Vinci teachers, students, and our entire organization. We thank you!!!

We also wish to convey a special thanks to SpaceX for kindly offering to host a group of teachers.


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