Chicagoland Speedway and Route 66 Raceway were named the Business of the Year on Thursday at the 87th Annual Illinois Association for Career & Technical Education Conference in Springfield, Illinois for their collaboration with Joliet Township High Schools (JTHS) on authentic learning experiences.
Communications Director of both facilities Denny Hartwig and Communications Coordinator Sarah Palya were on hand to accept the award. The honor is awarded to a different business each year that demonstrates commitment to Career and Technical Education (CTE) through their partnerships and staunch support of CTE professionals.
For six years, Chicagoland Speedway and Route 66 Raceway have teamed up with Joliet Township High Schools to provide students with innovative and real-world curricular experiences. The purpose of this partnership is to develop skills through authentic hands-on projects to prepare students for their career, while building upon skills taught in their career and technical education classes. Each project required students to research, create a business plan, design and construct a finished product, and present their finished creation to a panel of school and business representatives. Projects include the BenchMark project, Anniversary Banner project, Route 66 Raceway Social Media project, Cooking for a Cause and the Photo-Ops project.
Projects such as these are a direct result of the JTHS Academy structure, which is designed to increase student achievement by offering relevant college and career readiness activities. The academy structure allows teachers to partner with members of the business community to plan and implement real-world, project-based curricular experiences relevant to each academy’s theme.
“This strong partnership shows how working collaboratively with our community partners is beneficial for our students and prepares them for an abundance of college and career opportunities,” said Jeff Riley, JTHS Director of Strategic Partnerships. Riley nominated Chicagoland Speedway and Route 66 Raceway for the award recognition.
Chicagoland Speedway and Route 66 Raceway staff and partners serve as mentors throughout the school year, visiting classrooms to support students in the development of their finished product. Projects have also involved students and staff obtaining sponsorships to benefit a Joliet community organization. Another important component of the partnership includes scholarships for participating students awarded through an application process.
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