CAPS: Center for Advanced Professional Studies

Never chase what you want.
Elevate your game until what you want chases you.
Tai Lopez

Learning Through Real-World Experience Provides Valuable Insights . . . and a Competitive Edge

In the 2019-20 school year, Ladue Horton Watkins High School (LHWHS) will begin participating in CAPS: The Center for Advanced Professional Studies. This innovative program is nationally recognized and already in place in nearly 50 high schools across the country.

The program allows students to fast forward into their future by being fully immersed in a professional culture, solving real-world problems, using industry standard tools and receiving mentoring from actual employers, all while receiving high school and college credit.

CAPS is driven by changing needs in the workforce which, in turn, have an impact on post-secondary education experiences. So, whether a student is applying for college, planning to pursue other educational pursuits after high school or going directly into the workforce, the CAPS Program can provide students with an edge.

How Does it Work?

CAPS curriculum is dynamic and constantly evolving to follow industry trends and market changes. Developing each “strand” of study involves identifying business partnerships, building the relationship, and identifying the skills and hands-on experiences to be incorporated.

In preparation for the 2018-19 school year, LHWHS Assistant Principal Dr. Beth Rapoff and Business Education Teacher Jessica Kennedy will develop a Global Business and Entrepreneurship course as the initial strand of study offered through the program. The course will be available to juniors and seniors for 1.0 practical arts credits. CAPS Syllabus for Global Business and Entrepreneurship is linked here.

CAPS Coordinator Tracye Donovan is leading efforts to identify  and structure business partnerships and to coordinate the CAPS experience for students.

Additional strands will be developed over time. Examples of other strands offered in the St. Louis area are: Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing; Medicine, Healthcare and Bioscience; and Technology Solutions and Logistics.

Goals of the CAPS Program

Development of a CAPS experience is guided by five components:

Profession-based Learning. Instructors develop real-world, project-based learning strategies through collaborations with business and community partners. These interactions enhance the learning experience, preparing students for college and career.

Responsiveness. CAPS supports high-skill, high-demand careers through ongoing innovation in curriculum development, programs and services based on local business and community needs.

Self-Discovery and Exploration. Students realize their strengths and passions by exploring and experiencing potential professions. This allows them to make informed decisions about their future while learning to exhibit leadership.

Professional Skills Development. Unique experiences allow students to cultivate transformative professional skills such as understanding expectations, time management and other essential business values. These skills are critical to providing students a competitive advantage in their post-secondary education and professional careers.

Entrepreneurial Mindset. Instructors create an environment where creative thinking and problem solving is encouraged. An innovative culture is key to fostering entrepreneurial learning and design thinking.

An Off-Campus Experience

CAPS program participation takes place over a full school year in an off-campus location. (The site for the program is still being investigated.) Students begin their CAPS experience by working directly with their instructor on preparing and planning for their hands-on learning experience. They then begin to transition into their new role, progressing from an internship model to a fully-integrated professional role at the location of an actual business or other organization.

How Students Get Involved in the CAPS Program

Students will work with their counselors in determining whether CAPS is a good fit for their schedule and future plans. As each strand is launched, preparation for adding the next strand will begin until courses are available for all students interested in this type of coursework.

The CAPS Application is linked here.

Funding for the CAPS Program

Developing relationships with business, industry and higher education partners is critical to the success of the program. Through a $1 million grant from an anonymous donor, the Ladue Education Foundation & Alumni Association has created an endowment for a CAPS Business Partnership Specialist whose responsibility it will be to initiate, foster and maintain these important relationships.