When it comes to education in Pittsburgh, public institutions and community organizations have a long history of weaving tech trends into their work. But a new nonprofit collective—RefocusED, Inc.—is taking a fresh and collaborative approach to innovative education.

In the pursuit of “cultivat[ing] healthy, well educated, engaged citizenry,” the RefocusED team incorporates in-depth research of both existing curricula and growing needs. Instead of relying on the structures and foundations that have historically shaped public education systems, this approach starts with the recognition that students “are wells of human potential” and builds from there. Feedback and insight has been painstakingly gathered not only from local businesses, nonprofits, teachers, institutes of higher education, government agencies, and other stakeholders, but also—and essentially—from the “needs of area youth.”

One of the nonprofit’s first endeavors will be Career Tech Charter School, an independent, open enrollment institution serving students from PreK through 12th grade. Developed with expertise from local education superstars like Maureen Anderson, Angela Musto, and Trish Howison, this model builds on the successes of City Charter High School and other local institutions of innovation. Naturally, the Career Tech Charter curriculum will be highly focused on “Engineering, Technology, Healthcare, the Trades and other STEM-related fields,” fully preparing students to be active agents of change in an evolving workforce. These hard skills are an invaluable asset as students emerge from public school programs, and instilling an entrepreneurial spirit at an early age is vital.

But the educational offerings at Career Tech Charter will go far beyond the Tech. Based on research suggesting some Pittsburgh students “become disengaged from the traditional education system, disconnected from the community, and disenfranchised with the opportunities that currently seem to be unavailable to them,” RefocusED, Inc. has deliberately included community engagement principles in the core beliefs that drive their design. This way, students will not only be prepared to advance their industries, but they will enter the workforce with a deep understanding of their community’s specific needs and assets. This approach becomes an essential element of the Whole Person Education Model embraced by Career Tech Charter.

RefocusED, Inc. is proud and excited to share this highly innovative project with guests on January 29th, at the Welcome to the Future of Education Fundraiser. This event will be held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the freshly opened Threadbare Cider House. Ticket sales and event information can be found here.

This content was provided by a local, independent contributor to Made in PGH, a lifestyle blog.
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