Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Inside a GO CAPS Classroom, Outside of Mainstream Education

Chris Kays
Scott Harvey
Chris Kays with F1 Computing Solutions presents to a GO CAPS class.

Chris Kays prepares to share some tricks of the trade before roughly 30 high school students from across the Ozarks. The owner of F1 Computing Solutions is speaking to a GO CAPS class inside the eFactory near downtown Springfield.

“Any business model has to be dynamic. It has to change with the times, with the trends, with whatever’s going on in your industry. And you have to continuously research that and keep that up to date,” Kays says.

Sarah Clayton
Credit Scott Harvey / KSMU
Sarah Clayton is the entrepreneurship instructor for GO CAPS.

This year’s classes for the Greater Ozarks Centers for Advanced Professional Studies are about a month in. Students like Colton King, a Nixa High School senior, are getting a better idea of the skills and attitude needed to operate a business.

“The principals of entrepreneurship – he [Kays] elaborated on that," King recalled. "One of them being passion. Having a lot of passion for what you do. And I do think that’s a very key role.”

Course strands include engineering and manufacturing, medicine and healthcare, technology solutions, and entrepreneurship; that’s the class I visited on a recent Monday afternoon. Sarah Clayton is the instructor. She wants these high school students to obtain knowledge in areas that weren’t afforded to her at that age. 

“How to make that professional email, how to do the handshake, how to feel confident about networking – that was a major one – but then also actually get to have that hands-on experience and see what business people are doing in the business environment and the industry,” Clayton said.

By bringing in entrepreneurs like Kays, Clayton is helping connect students with professionals in the fields that they’re studying. It can be done in the classroom and on site at area businesses.

David Ehie
Credit Scott Harvey / KSMU
Second year student David Ehie is in the Technology Solutions strand. He wants to become an engineer.

This semester, Clayton’s class is preparing a feasibility study concerning a legitimate issue for a local business. Next semester, the students will develop their own business, whether it is a product or service, and then present that business plan.

“I’m going to also use throughout the whole course something call design thinking, to where the students are focusing on the customer at all times and making sure they’re building this product for an actual use – for somebody - not just for the fact to make money. Because it’s not gonna sell if it’s not for somebody.”

David Ehie is in his second year of GO CAPS. An enrollee of the Engineering strand last year, the Central High School senior is now in the Technology Solutions field. Today, his class has teamed up with Clayton’s students.

Ehie says last year his class was able to assist local businesses with various projects such as evaluating time management and productivity.

“All of those experiences actually taught all of us how professionalism impacts the workplace and also what the workforce actually looks like.”

Ehie adds he’s gained a lot of confidence through his experiences.

GO CAPS students
Credit Scott Harvey / KSMU
During a StrengthsQuest session, students selected the work ethic traits that best describe them and shared with classmates.

“Back then I wasn’t exactly the most verbal person. But it taught that you don’t really need to be afraid of anything. You always need to have confidence. And people respect confidence. Every time they see confidence, they’re more implied to talk to you, to try to help you.”

A week later, Ehie’s class and several others have gathered inside a conference room at the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce. This is a StrengthsQuest session, an aspect of the program where students identify and learn how to build upon their strengths.

A small group has formed at the front of the room, where students are comparing their strengths and how others perceive those traits. To help choose, they’re using what’s called the StrengthsFinder Themes, a list of over 30 work ethic characteristics.

“We’re trying to find what we like about the StrengthsQuest, and what we think is crazy,” Ehie says.

That latter section Ehie’s describing refers to the strength a student possesses that they or their peers may find a bit annoying. He believes that for some, his desire to provide “input” could at times be off-putting. But by writing these things down…

“It helps us to deal with those problems and figure out why we don’t like them, and a better way to present these problems to people and have them understand our feelings, or cooperate with us.”

Back at the eFactory, Nathan Gregg with Springfield Creatives is helping students sign up to be paired with a mentor or placed in a job shadow.

“In the interests section, you can put pretty much anything that we can do to match you to the perfect person. So you can tell us some of your hobbies, what you’re looking to do when you graduate from college…,” says Gregg.

These opportunities with local employers will further a student’s experience in their strand and help them identify a specific area they’d like to pursue beyond high school.

Sarah Clayton says it’s important that the students are self-driven, as there is much work to be done outside of the classroom.

“I’m gonna present you with the challenge or the problem, and then you gotta go and figure it out. I’m here as a resource, and a connector to connect you with partners, the community, anything like that; but you’ve really gotta go and take that step, extra step and make that connection and do that work.”

Many of Clayton’s students from year one of GO CAPS are now in college, and likely better equipped to navigate their career path. For David Ehie, who will graduate high school next spring, he’s ahead of the game. Ehie says he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do prior to GO CAPS. Now, he has aspirations of becoming an engineer, and says he now “knows how to get there.”