Race to the Top recipients take SVVSD learning tour

Jalali Hartman said Thursday that prior to working with St. Vrain Valley students, he didn't know what they'd be capable of, but that he was ultimately impressed. He even joked that he has been left wondering why he needs to hire anyone.

Hartman, an entrepreneur and the "chief human" at Robauto, sat on a panel of Front Range business leaders that was convened to speak to educators from around the country who had come to tour SVVSD facilities and learn how the district works with business.

Educators from Nevada, Kentucky, South Carolina and Texas, among other states, joined SVVSD representatives for a day of visiting with one another. All 16 have received grant money from the Race to the Top government initiative, said Damon Brown, executive director of communications at the St. Vrain Valley School District, and all were keen to learn from each other at this event.

Carried from location to location by bus, the educators reached the district's Innovation Center just after noon, where the representatives were guided around some of the projects currently in operation, and were seated for the panel discussion.

The business panel also included Daniel Willis, program manager for IBM Colorado Executive Initiatives; Gary Rogers from OtterCares; and Jason Barnes from Discovery Education. All of the panelists said that their companies' partnership with the Innovation Center and the SVVSD has proven to be mutually beneficial, with the work of students genuinely proving helpful.

The Innovation Center partners with industry to provide real world work experiences to students. It matches highly skilled students with business, research and development opportunities.

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Gillian Marsh, left, talks about her design project with Francesca Henderson, from High Tech High in San Diego, California, during a tour of the Innovation Center of St. Vrain Valley School District in Longmont on Thursday. (Matthew Jonas / Times-Call Staff Photographer)