Preparing Students for Real Life

21st Century Skills Curriculum

Tip: Teach financial responsibility using examples students can relate to. Talk about the cost of phone contracts, sneakers, headphones and dating.


Curriculum and content should be aligned with as many of these lessons and competencies as possible. A tailored approach is the most effective way to ensure true impact, sustainability in the school and long-term engagement from supporting partnerships.

There is not one single cookie-cutter approach to incorporating 21st century skills based workforce readiness curriculum in a school. Each school, community and district has its own culture. Resources, budgets, capacities and real-time challenges must be considered and smartly planned around. The curriculum frameworks is consistent, however, and mutable to change with economic and social trends. See a sample here.


A model that will truly work is a model that is supported by leadership, championed by teachers and designed from the classroom up.


21st Century Skills Curriculum: Lessons for Real Life


Tip: Students step into a new mindset when they dress and act the part. Teach them professional attire and standard business English - and why it matters.

Teaching the Rules to the Game of Life.

This empowering curriculum is based on a proven model developed, taught and refined by Amy during her five and a half years in an urban classroom. The approach helps students build upon their core curriculum skills and become truly prepared for what awaits them post-high school. It teaches students how to create, how to build a career and how to turn ideas into solutions.

This model of curriculum along with a project-based pedagogy that engages adult mentors in various roles was designed, taught and proven in Amy's award-winning Ventures Program at a high school in the Boston Public School system.

When supported by school partnerships that bring the community into the classroom, these lessons teach students how to turn their excitement into a career path and their ideas into real-world solutions. This is how we must empower our students to think about the future - and where they belong in it.


Every school and every classroom requires a custom approach.
What is consistent are the core lessons and competencies.

Core Units & Projects

  • Entrepreneurship
  • Student-written business plans
  • Teamwork & communication skills
  • Career exploration
  • Presentation skills
  • Interviewing practice
  • Financial literacy
  • Resumes & cover letters
  • Discriminatory "-isms" in the workplace
  • Professionalism in the workplace
  • Planning for the future
  • Rights & responsibilities
  • Multimedia presentations
  • Building networks
  • Reciprocal relationships
  • Job shadowing
  • Internships
  • Mentoring
  • Trust & healthy boundaries
  • Career fairs
  • Networking
  • Practice of "Standard Business English"
  • Professional attire
  • Goal setting & future planning

Core Competencies & Behaviors

  • Teamwork & team building
  • Small group dynamics
  • Communication skills
  • Professional presentation skills
  • Problem-solving
  • Critical thinking
  • Use of "Standard Business English"
  • Practice of professionalism (norms & behaviors)
  • Self-awareness & reflection
  • Resourcefulness
  • Resilience
  • Financial planning & budgets
  • Research
  • Data gathering & assessment
  • Idea mapping
  • Brainstorming
  • Future planning
  • Awareness of community needs
  • Document collaboration
  • Non-cognitive/behavioral skills
  • Confidence, appropriate self-expression
  • Setting & enforcing boundaries
  • Self awareness of strengths & blind spots
  • Facing fears, overcoming resistance

Let's Level The Playing Field


Tip: Students build real self-confidence and sharpen professional skills when they deliver important presentations outside of school. Partnering with businesses and engaging their staff and resources allows students to step out of their comfort zone and into a brand new world.

Is there a solution to the jobs crisis?

I believe so, and it is including 21st century skills curriculum into every child's core educational experience. Teaching all youth employability and business skills while helping them to understand the world of work through experiential learning opportunities before they leave school will equip our young people with the skills necessary to make important life decisions and do well in post-secondary pursuits. This will help to build the local and global workforce of tomorrow while providing students with the know-how to build a solid foundation for their individual futures.


Lessons for All Students:
The Model is Inclusive and Equitable.


This inclusive curriculum approach is an equitable system of educating students with real-world skills and it must be tied to real-world measurements, practices and assessments which align with success in our modern-day society. Students of all learning levels and styles benefit from these lessons. Foundational self-empowerment skills are, quite possibly, the great equalizer for our young people for they engage each student to find and act on his or her unique strengths.


Partnerships Make Learning Real


Building bridges between schools and businesses.

The entire system of lessons and reflections is designed to empower youth to grow into adulthood knowing how obtain and perform jobs well. And most importantly, students learn first hand how to problem solve and have the confidence to take a creative approach to their work. After all, it is their solutions and their new businesses and organizations that will create meaningful jobs and forge the future for all of us.

As a good curriculum should, these lessons are living, breathing opportunities for students to learn to succeed in the world of business, career and life post-high school. The lessons are flexible, relevant and invite current topics, articles and discussions around issues in the news and those that affect our students today.

Some lessons ask deep questions and others push students through and beyond limiting beliefs around public speaking, presenting, thinking creatively and even help students examine personal strengths and weaknesses. Students grow and learn invaluable life skills, parents see an impact on behavior and maturity and mentors who work with this curriculum proclaim "I wish they taught me this in high school!"

Teaching students these skills is an investment in the future of our workforce, our economy and will empower youth to turn ideas into innovations that can address so many of the issues that plague us. Including professional adults in the teaching and learning experience makes it real.

It's a win-win - for all of us!

Tip: Engage adults students admire. Here, students listen to Johnny Earl, iconic founder of the Johnny Cupcakes t-shirt brand they wear, talk about why teamwork is important to building a successful business.

Tip: Empower students to believe that they matter and can play a role in civics. Here are two proud students who interned wth MA Governor Deval Patrick and Boston City Counselor John R. Connolly for 6 weeks.

"Ours is a world of 24-hour-news cycles, global markets, and high-speed Internet. We need to look no further than our morning paper to see that our future, and the future of our children, is inextricably linked to the complex challenges of the global community. And for our children to be prepared to take their place in that world and rise to those challenges, they must first understand it."

- Roderick Paige,
Former U.S. Secretary of Education