The management of Business Education Connection will change hands
Amid larger discussions about what the future of work looks like, a program implemented in Durango high schools is shaping the conversation about the future of education.
In 2020, Janae Hunderman launched Business Education Connection, a program designed to help students discover their interests and develop their skills through internships and workplace learning opportunities. She had already been working with students to secure internships at Animas High School for about seven years and had been with the charter school for a decade.
The program is jointly funded by AHS and Durango School District 9-R and launched in July 2020. Hunderman, BEC’s workplace learning coordinator, described the program as an individual show.
But now she is advancing her career at the state level. She started a new job as an education consultant for the Colorado Workforce Development Council and the Colorado Department of Education.
Still, the show must go on. Marie Kehm, former internship coordinator at Fort Lewis College, takes on the role Hunderman leaves behind.
“It’s the role of the people,” Hunderman said. “It’s being able to develop relationships, to be a connector, to be the type of person who sees a student’s personality and interests. “
Hunderman said the BEC also needs a visionary or a great thinker. She is delighted that she laid the groundwork for Kehm to embrace and make the program his own.
The BEC has facilitated 150-200 student internships in the community since its launch in 2020. Hunderman admitted that starting the program just as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold was odd timing, but the BEC is an innovative program and it is rewarding to see students in internship roles and learn that they have skills to develop.
“It’s really about helping students see what their interests are and helping them find ways to explore those interests and reinforce those interests, as a way to figure out what they want to do after high school.” She said.
Hunderman (and soon Kehm) spends much of his time in the BEC program collaborating with teachers at Durango High School, Big Picture High School, and AHS. She also frequently visits new businesses and assesses the community’s interest in new student internships, which she will share with teachers and students.
“The role of coordinator of the business education connection is the first position shared between the three schools,” Hunderman said. “… It’s really unique to have the charter and the district to share something like that. “
She said her new job is remote and travel-based, so she’s not moving from Durango and will always be in town. She said she will always be able to support local schools since that is the main function of her new role anyway, just at the state level. She said a rising tide lifts all ships and that she hopes to bring her new experiences and knowledge to her community.