Hinckley-Big Rock School District 429 is situated in the countryside between Aurora and DeKalb, Illinois. Hinckley-Big Rock has been a leader state-wide in building a strong foundation for all students with career readiness and postsecondary options through its implementation of the HBR Career Readiness Plan. This plan, which builds skills and experiences for students from elementary school through high school, was developed within the school district and is based on the Illinois Postsecondary and Career Expectations (PaCE) Framework.
Not only has Hinckley-Big Rock invested a great deal of time and energy in ensuring that students have experiences and skills to help them make choices about careers and postsecondary learning, but Hinckley-Big Rock also seeks to provide students with authentic learning experiences in which their “classwork” is “real work”. While this is desired across the curriculum and all courses, these efforts are most noticeable within the Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources Career Pathway.
Like many school districts in Illinois, Hinckley-Big Rock has a rich history with providing students with authentic learning experiences through extra-curricular activities. With the understanding that such experiences can lead to deeper, more complex and longer lasting learning, ensuring that students learn through authentic problem-based units and lessons is a priority. Hinckley-Big Rock is furthering these efforts with a multi-year initiative to take advantage of the size of its property and expand the resources available for student learning on the working farm on the east side of the high school building.
Over the past couple of years, a small orchard has been planted and water and electrical have been added and/or upgraded. Next, a building will be added to support the fully functional agricultural operations in which students participate as part of their coursework and learning.
Being able to fully experience the work allows students to learn both career-specific knowledge and skills as well as develop the type of skills that are needed across careers as defined by the Cross-Sector Essential Employability Competencies (see page 6 of this PDF).
These efforts are not limited to just agriculture nor Career & Technical Education (CTE) courses at Hinckley-Big Rock, but they are also noticeable outside the building as Indian Valley Vocational Center CTE students also construct the actual dug-outs that generations of student-athletes will use for decades to come.