The minute you walk into Ball High School in Galveston, you get a sense of history and legacy when you look at the senior class photos on the wall that date back to the late 1800s. As I scanned the aged photographs, I looked at the faces and I wondered how their lives turned out? How they impacted others, what they accomplished or what legacies they
might have left for the next generation? For the two gentlemen I went to Ball High School to meet with, Mr. Stephen “Rob” Lewis and Mr. Darren Muren, the question of legacy is clear to see with the cross-curricular program they’ve worked to establish.
As the Chinese proverb goes, every journey in life begins with a single step and their initial step stemmed from an idea to add production equipment for the Special Education and Incubator/Entrepreneurship in conjunction with a grant opportunity from the Moody Family Foundation. Funding in hand, they purchased a Roland DGA SG2, a VG2 (both wide format printers) and a Roland DGA UV printer. Purchasing these systems added depth and
dimension to their program on a commercial scale. By design and by trial & error, they both saw the opportunity to engage students across a multitude of disciplines in a variety of career-related applications. Campus-wide from business and career technology to special needs students, Rob & Darren began to develop a cross-curriculum program that would center around Ball High School’s spirit store.
How does it work? In support of product development for the spirit store, you have students who design & create, students that manage inventory, logistics & budgeting and students that
deliver sales & customer service. What Rob and Darren have created is a program that provides a real-world application, serving to help create a foundation for life skills, professional skills and soft skills. This is a functioning business microcosm, a real-world career and learning application across multiple curriculums. I can only imagine where this experience will take students. For many, this is that “one step” that will likely take them on an exciting career journey with employable skill sets, capabilities, confidence and direction they might not have had otherwise.
While I was meeting with Rob and Darren, there were beads everywhere. Students were working together in teams with precision, like clockwork. I learned that they had applied this same model to a program they had termed “Beads and Needs” in support of Mardi Gras, of which Galveston hosts one of the largest parades outside of New Orleans. Every year millions of beads are given away and go by the wayside; likely lost or discarded. This program is disrupting that process by delivering a sustainability model to take-in donated beads by the thousands then sort and package them for resale in the student store and online. Interesting huh? “Good Morning America” thought so too. Around Mardi Gras time, GMA interviewed Darren and featured this program identifying its uniqueness relative to sustainability and student life skill development. Way to go guys and Ball High School!
Do these programs generate revenue? Oh yeah, they generate revenue. Moreover, the revenue creates a downstream impact that further benefits the students at Ball High School. The revenue results in scholarships, music instruments and funding for under-resourced programs. The program’s end result is a perfect cycle of learning, life skill development and a return on investment that only time can truly measure.
What’s next? Rob and Darren’s long-term vision is to establish a retail space – a coffee, bakery and print shop whereby this same operational model is applied to create a unique organization. An organization that will build upon the foundational success that Rob and Darren have established, giving students valuable life skills and creating full-time employment opportunities for students of all abilities once they graduate high school. Keep an eye on these guys and Ball High School in Galveston, I doubt this is the last you’ll see of the legacy they are working to accomplish.
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