Taking a Class from the Real World

Seniors were offered a new course called Designing Real World Impacts, which allows them to work with real companies and learn entrepreneurship and business.


submitted by Prentiss Earl

Senior Hannah McGraw works on her project for the Designing Real World Impacts Class at the Burns & McDonnell headquarters on Aug. 31.

Liv Zender, Reporter

A business and entrepreneurship class called Designing Real World Impacts had been added to the selection of electives for the 2020-2021 school year. The class is designed for students that are interested in business or entrepreneurship in the future. These opportunities appealed to senior Violet Tumlin because it gave her the opportunity to leave school for a couple hours and work side by side with business people. 

 “I chose to take Designing Real World Impacts this year because I think that schools in the U.S. lack the ability to teach students about the real world,” Tumlin said, “and not just about how to study for tests.” 

Seniors Violet Tumlin, Abbie Sinow, Dillan Elmquist, President Alicia Herald-Kotarba ’02 and seniors Hannah McGraw and Mady Jenkins pose at the Burns and McDonnell headquarters on Sept. 3. (submitted by Prentiss Earl)

When Director of Innovation Michelle Nebel joined the staff in 2018, her main goal was to find different ways to engage students in the community, with real world, hands-on experiences.Last year, this class took the form of a project given to seniors to complete in their AP English class. However, English teacher Katie Durkin saw the positive effect it had on students and the potential it could have in the future. 

“Mrs. Nebel and Sion’s team of administrators suggested that we develop this project into a more immersive learning experience,” Durkin said, “and create a new class which would allow students to travel off-campus and spend half of the school day working on projects through the lens of social entrepreneurship.” 

This suggestion from the administration team led to the development of an entire class built to focus on hands-on experiences that are available outside the classroom. The class is being co-taught by Nebel, Durkin, and Director of Entrepreneurship Prentiss Earl. Designing Real World Impacts is meant to help students develop key entrepreneurship skills such as problem solving, communication and networking. Students will develop these skills by connecting with entrepreneurs and other local professionals around Kansas City to form a common goal in response to a problem in the community. Senior Dillan Elmquist is partnering with the co-founder of the Troost Market Collective. 

“They’re basically trying to destigmatize the area of Troost because it’s such a dividing line in the city, the dividing line was over a hundred years ago,” Elmquist said, “so it was just a zone that decided which land was valuable and which wasn’t, and that is what’s caused the impoverishment of the east side of Troost”

Seniors Mady Jenkins, Hannah McGraw and Violet Tumlin work on their projects for the Designing Real World Impacts class at the Burns & McDonnell headquarters on Sept. 2. (submitted by Prentiss Earl)

Due to COVID-19 regulations, some adjusts have been made to the itinerary for the semester. As of now, the Burns & McDonnell office buildings have offered students access to some meeting spaces to spend their last three hours everyday. These meeting spaces will give students the corporate feel they are looking for. This will also give them space to work towards their goal of impacting the community in a positive way that helps others while targeting their passions and individual interests. 

“I’m hoping to establish some connections, some relationships that I can go back to when I’m out of college,” Elmquist said, “and just networking opportunities to grow my resume.”