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Can you think back to when you were in high school and sum up an experience that changed your perception on something? It instigated a flurry of thoughts, helped you understand yourself better, and gave you clarity on what you might do after graduation? Looking back, it wasn’t necessarily a grand gesture; it was someone giving you a bit of their time, knowledge, and an opportunity.

Those are tools we all have at our disposal; the ones that can make a substantial impact on a student and their journey.

Last fall, we coordinated a project between three organizations: the LISD TECH Center, Artalicious, and Hoyden Creative. We had an opportunity for students to have a hands-on learning experience under the guidance of industry professionals and supporting a community event. Students from the Marketing, Entrepreneurship and Finance class designed, executed, and analyzed a market research study to help Artalicious better understand and serve its guests. That was a great teaching moment in and of itself. Now that a bit of time has passed, we can see and feel the real value.

This project brought together three generations to work toward a common goal. It propelled guest teaching moments in the classroom to connect students with industry and community leaders. It created visibility for an important education program and fostered relationships within the community. And it gave the perfect case study for students to take forward to the DECA Marketing Competition later in the fall.

Finally, and most importantly, it was the small moments in that learning experience that quietly planted seeds with students that said “This community cares about you. We value you. We want you to consider Lenawee your home.” For those of us working to continue building a vibrant community, isn’t this exactly what we want them to feel? But it’s not something that will resonate on paper or through a formal recruitment program. It’s something they will realize in a few years how it changed their attitude, formed their thoughts, and helped them make the most of their journey. A journey that will someday lead them to pay it forward.

It’s not about being flashy and grandiose. It doesn’t take hours of time and loads of money. It’s about making yourself open to the possibility that you have something to offer that students can greatly gain from. Be yourself, get out of the office (or invite them in!), and see what can unfold. Just a few small moments in learning from each other can make a big impact…for everyone involved.