Innovation in the Willamina School District is a crucial piece for creating new economic opportunities for the town. By integrating current industry best practices, such as agile methodologies, into the way students are taught, they become better prepared for the new digital economy. This innovation initiative at the district has been led by Carrie Zimbrick, the Superintendent of the Willamina School District. She sees herself as a facilitator of the Innovate Willamina movement within the school.

“I think the careers we are preparing these kids for, we haven’t even imagined yet,” said Zimbrick. “We’ve got to prepare these kids just to be thinkers and to come up with ideas and to prepare for the future, even if that’s unknown.”

One step that she has taken to better prepare students for the future is hire Kurt Neville as the CTE and Youth Development Coordinator for Willamina High School. Neville has been working on building communications between local businesses and the high school through integrating lessons in the classroom with real-life experience.

“Each student has a business connection in the community that they call monthly, ‘what do you need, how can we help you,’” said Neville. “And so it’s turning the tides so that instead of the businesses always helping the schools, the schools are helping the businesses, creating that intercommunication between the two. That communication allows for that student to have a connection with industry before exiting school.”

This integration has benefited not only the students but also the local businesses. Students gain hands-on experience as well as learn current industry practices while business owners have been able to help train future talent to be more effective in their industry.

This is why innovation is in Willamina’s education system is so important. It helps students become better prepared for the future. A future where people can still live in Willamina and participate in the careers of their choice. A future of Innovate Willamina.