National Rural Education Association Official Podcast

S03E13 - Project-Based Learning and Experiential Learning, and Interview with Superintendent Todd Cordrey

Episode Summary

In this episode of the Rural Voice, we interview Todd Cordrey, the Superintendent of Mancos School District, about project-based learning. In School Year 2020/21, the Mancos Board of Education worked to formalize its strategic plan. Teachers and Parents identified project-based learning that would facilitate long-term learning and apply to the workforce. Cordrey highlighted the importance of student-based learning, where students facilitate active learning by finding their voice in their education. Moreover, businesses are seeking ownership of projects. This opens the opportunity for internships for students scheduling student experiences beyond the classroom. Students were surveyed, asking them what their preferences were for career interests, and then adapted to the curriculum to meet their needs. Based on the results, the students could participate in student-based learning. As a reminder, this is occurring in rural Colorado, which made identifying expertise difficult; however, the faculty and staff stepped up to meet the needs of the students. Each curricular focus was organized into a career pathway. The school system applied for grants for staff and resources. The team focused on rigor and authenticity to ensure the program met student career needs. The goal was to give students experience with business planning and application. Students started their own businesses and even profited from the skills gained in the class. These skills were aligned with the course curriculum and outcomes. They partnered with Uncharted Learning and the Local Chamber of Commerce to help the team structure and implement this curricular approach. We discussed all the success stories of students and how using the Shark Tank model prompted students to be innovative. For more information on Todd, please go to