Practitioner Highlight Series: Community Engagement

Educator: JJ Heesch
District: Pewaukee School District
School: Pewaukee High School

To learn more about the elements highlighted in this post, click the links below:
Focus Element: Community Engagement
Additional Elements: Learner Voice Infused, Learner Choice Incorporated, Recognition of Anytime Anywhere Learning 

How are you incorporating the selected element in your classroom?
Insight is an innovative education capstone, designed by Pewaukee High School to give high school students hands-on, real-world experiences immersed in a professional setting.  Students in the Insight program engage in a rigorous curriculum while also learning valuable skills for high-demand careers. Industry partners provide actual project work and experiences, while providing students an opportunity to build their portfolios and resumes. Students are mentored by professionals in a career the student is interested in pursuing.

Currently, Insight offers three strands: Global Business, Innovation, and Pathways to Teaching. We engage the community within each strand through the mentor relationships, guest instructor experiences, and project work.

In Global Business, students complete real projects for actual companies. Students are able to choose a project they are interested in completing. Organizations we have worked with include the American Heart Association, Milwaukee Bucks, JJ Watt Foundation, Colliers International, Jannsen Wealth Management, and Inpro.

The Innovation strand consists of Business Innovation and Engineering Innovation. Students are working throughout the year to create their own startups. Students begin by working through the design process to identify a problem or need, and they work to create a solution. At the end of the year, they’ll pitch their startup to actual investors.

In Pathways to Teaching, students are in the classroom observing and designing a lesson. Students choose the discipline and age level they’re interested in learning more about. Throughout the semester, students rotate through the different environments. At the end of the course, students will present their lesson or activity to the class.

How has implementing this element improved your practice?
I’m always thinking of ways to transform the classroom and how we can assist students in attaining the highest level of  Bloom’s Taxonomy. On the flip side, many business people tell me that the new employees they hire aren’t at the level necessary to move the business forward. Insight was created on the notion of bridging the gap between education and businesses. We partner with businesses to educate and provide authentic learning experiences for students, all while meeting the mission of the Pewaukee School District, which is “Opening the door to each child’s future.”   

How has implementing this element helped your learners?
This is Insight’s second year and we’ve already had multiple success stories from our graduates. A couple of examples: a student needed a job over the summer and was going to apply in the warehouse of an area business. The student decided to approach the owner of the business and talk about the experiences that were gained through Insight. Because of the experiences during Insight, the student spent the summer creating and managing the company’s social media strategy, instead of working in the warehouse.

Another student was less than one month into college and received a message on LinkedIn from a marketing firm in Milwaukee. The firm offered her an internship for next summer due to all of her Insight experience. Many of our students are reporting that they’re ahead of their competitors due to their experiences through Insight.  

Want to know more about the Honeycomb Model of personalized learning? Explore our Interactive Honeycomb!


For more information about the Insight program, please visit or follow them on Twitter at @pewaukeeinsight