SMSD Staff Recognized During Real World Learning Event

SMSD Staff Recognized During Real World Learning Event
Shawnee Mission School District

Shawnee Mission School District staff, students, and business partners were recognized during the Kauffman Foundation’s “Get on the Bus” event in February to celebrate the success and growth of the Real World Learning (RWL) initiative. 

More than 500 guests, representing 75 local high schools across 35 districts attended the event that showcased the initiative’s growth. 

Superintendent Dr. Michelle Hubbard kicked off the event with opening remarks, sharing why she believes RWL is important for all students. Her presentation was followed by a panel of high school students from all over the Kansas City area who shared how they are helping their school administrators create opportunities for all students to participate in RWL.

Educators and business partners were recognized for their impact on the initiative’s growth, including two Shawnee Mission staff members.

Shawnee Mission West Business teacher Tiffany Dixon was honored with the “Opportunity Amplifier” award, given to people who are furthering students' opportunities to participate in RWL at the high school level. Dixon was instrumental in the launch of the Real World Learning storefront located in Oak Park Mall. The virtual store gives students entrepreneurial experience and the opportunity to learn in an active retail environment.

“Being selected serves as a reminder that my students and I may be inside a classroom, but we are not working and learning in isolation,” Dixon said. “Shifting to real-world learning activities requires both students and educators to be modern-day innovators and problem-solvers. When we foster this entrepreneurial mindset, we empower our entire educational community to take immediate action in making our world a better place.”

Laura Harsch, Shawnee Education Foundation’s Business to Education Program officer, was also recognized. Harsch has recruited dozens of local business partners to participate in Shawnee Mission’s RWL program. These partners host students for job shadows, internships, and client-connected projects. Harsch received the RWL Coordinator Recognition award for “NextGen Navigators” for her work as an education-to-business liaison.

Shawnee Mission North Senior Carly Miller was selected by the Kauffman Foundation to be a student ambassador for RWL. This year, Miller has been attending workshops and sharing her RWL experiences with her peers. 

“I became a RWL ambassador because I believe it is important to educate our students on life after high school,” Miller said. 

During the event, Miller worked as a greeter and was able to network with businesses outside the Kansas City metro area.

Ace Cofield, a senior at Shawnee Mission South, is also a RWL student ambassador. He got the opportunity to speak at the ceremony honoring Dixon and Harsch.


SMSD, along with more than 30 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.

The Real World Learning goal is by 2030 every student will graduate with a diploma and 
one Market Value Asset.