Real World Learning with JE Dunn

Real World Learning with JE Dunn
Shawnee Mission School District

As students from John Diemer Elementary await the completion of their new school building, they have been learning about the process from construction professionals. In fact, JE Dunn Construction pros visited two Shawnee Mission classrooms to provide students with Real World Learning experiences related to construction. 

At Indian Hills Middle school, they shared blueprints for the SMSD’s Center for Academic Achievement and discussed the many considerations that go into the construction of a building.

Following the lesson, students were challenged to build their own tall and sturdy structure. They could choose from a variety of materials that included everything from pipe cleaners and lasagna noodles to Styrofoam squares and tape. 

As Chera Hishaw, community impact education manager for JE Dunn, measured each structure, she noted appreciation for how each group worked as a team because that’s important on a construction site.

“I learned that cooperation is important and some of our ideas didn’t work, but that’s okay,” shared Holly Cordaro, seventh grader.

At John Diemer Elementary, the JE Dunn team visited Ashley Jensen’s third-grade classroom and shared blueprints of the plans for the new John Diemer Elementary with students.

Hishaw read a book about construction and the different careers including carpenters, framers, welders, electricians, and plumbers. She pointed out that her co-worker, Jennifer Lyon, is construction superintendent at the Diemer job site and that anyone can have a career in construction. Hishaw then invited the students to “think, pair, and share” about what they learned.

The lesson concluded with the students drawing their own plans for the new school.

On the morning of May 18, the third graders took a field trip to the site of the new John Diemer Elementary to see construction in progress. 

Students compared blueprints to what they saw onsite, asked questions about their new school, and learned about what it takes to construct a new building.

Senior project manager, Nathan Daraban, provided the students a tour and pointed out features, including the location of the library, gym, and playground. 

Kyle Miesner, automation/robotics design and modeling teacher at Indian Hills, explained that opportunities for students to interact with professionals is valuable because it helps students connect their interests to possible future careers. 

“Bringing professionals into our classrooms is really important. We are so fortunate to have so many resources in Shawnee Mission and it takes learning to the next level,” he added.

A key objective in the district strategic plan is to prepare students for college and career. SMSD, along with nearly 50 school districts in our region, have partnered with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to better prepare students for learning and work. Real World Learning thrives when the community and schools collaborate to provide immersive experiences for students while building a pipeline for future talent. Click here to learn more about Real World Learning in the Shawnee Mission School District