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The VECTOR Program: Learning through Experience

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Claudia Winslett (`18) displays her research achieved during her Catalyst internship at Case Western in April, 2016.

The VECTOR Program is a program that connects curriculum to outside experiences, providing individual depth to education. Students have a chance to explore an area of academic interest:

  • Science and Medicine
  • Engineering and Design
  • Creativity and Personal Expression
  • Entrepreneurship and Commerce
  • Civic Engagement

Participants are allowed to switch categories of academic interest and even combine areas in order to discover their voice and passion.

Several faculty members collaborated to launch the program in spring, 2014. Mr. Ryzner, Director of the Middle School, is the current coordinator of the VECTOR Program and should be contacted if interested in joining.

All ninth and tenth graders are eligible enter the program. Upon entering, students are assigned mentors based on the area of interest they pursue and must meet at least once a month with them. The mentors are:

  • Dr. Turk, Instructor in Science (Science and Medicine)
  • Mr. Adiletta, Coordinator of Academic Technology and Instructor in Computer Science (Engineering and Design)
  • Mr. Kilkenney, Instructor of Music (Creativity and Personal Expression)
  • Mr. Greenfield, Instructor in English and History (Creativity and Personal Expression)
  • Mr. Marcus, Instructor in Entrepreneurial Studies (Entrepreneurship and Commerce)
  • Mr. Ryzner (Civic Engagement)

The role of the mentors is to develop conversations that always focus on a student’s goals and challenges that set them on a firm direction. The experiences a student acquires are also discussed and quantified based on the level of engagement, leadership, and depth reached.

Students can seek out experiences on the VECTOR calendar on the Gilmour website or ask their mentor for known opportunities in the area. Some past experiences include Catalyst internships, Cleveland Clinic World Wide Classroom, job shadows, and seminars. By the time graduation nears for a student, they will have acquired a substantial portfolio and a capstone experience. All experiences and growth of a student can be viewed via tackk.com/vector.

Maddy Hillard (`18), a two year VECTOR participant, said, “It has improved my knowledge of business and entrepreneurship by helping me explore different aspects of business that I can’t find in my regular courses.”

The VECTOR Program has helped students like Hillard become apart of a community that pushes them to expand their horizons and take risks. An opportunity for the level of support and resources that the program provides in order to develop skill sets will not always be available and students should take advantage of that.

Participants in the program demonstrate initiative, creativity, and curiosity in their academic learning. These qualities differentiate a student when going through the college application process in a positive way.

Graduates of the VECTOR Program will leave with time and experiences that can translate into fuel for their future careers. Students also move forward with a set of refined skills in a particular area of interest that could not be captured in the classroom.