The Lee County School District is not just educating the children of this county, but prepping them for a professional life beyond the classroom, according to district officials.
Reaching out to the local business community was part of that effort Friday morning, when School Board Member Mary Fischer and Dr. Deedara Hicks, director of secondary education for the district, presented their goals and methods to the Cape Coral Council for Progress.
The process of preparing students begins in elementary school, according to Hicks, but lessons run deeper than the pages of their text books.
Hicks said giving students opportunities and experiences outside the classroom was crucial.
"Being able to provide them real world experience, and to be literate - that's the key," Hicks said.
Engaging the business community also is crucial to that experience, Hicks said.
Council for Progress members vowed to aid the school district in any way they can, and will likely offer future advice on the best ways to engage the educators, too.
Many students come from broken or non-existent home lives, according to Fischer, which makes engaging parents a much different proposal than engaging businesses.
"Involving parents is often more difficult than involving the business community," Fischer added.
Bob Koenig from Kraft Construction said the school district needs to offer more educational opportunities for those students who might not have an eye on college but who are, instead, interested in entering the workforce right after high school.
"There's a bunch of kids in Cape Coral that have no interest in college and we have failed them, as teachers, a school district and as parents," Koenig said.
Koenig pointed out that only Ida Baker offers career and professional academies such as automotive and public service classes. Koenig felt those opportunities needed to be offered at more schools in the city.
Koenig said business leaders are willing to help if the school district is willing to listen.
"If they're willing to change the culture, we're willing to help," he said.
The Council for Progress committed to providing the names of business leaders and council members who might be willing to provide advice and reach out to the school district.