New film set for screenings tour touts surging experiential learning that jump-starts students’ careers | Black & Veatch

New film set for screenings tour touts surging experiential learning that jump-starts students’ careers

Co-sponsored by Black & Veatch, ‘Where Students Lead’ tells story, virtues of CAPS education

Growing numbers of U.S. school districts are adopting an educational model partnering them with community and business interests, giving students real-world experience and a big leap toward their career. And now, that decade-old push to remake education using experiential learning is headed to the big screen.

As part of a collaboration among Kansas-based Black & Veatch, the Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) and multimedia producer Overflow Companies, a film chronicling the impact of CAPS and its national affiliate programs debuts Wednesday with a screening in Kansas, CAPS’ birthplace. Roughly 90 minutes long and with the tagline, “There’s no syllabus for life,” “Where Students Lead” shares testimonials of students, parents, educators, higher education institutions and companies who’ve joined in the program meant to fast-forward students’ into their careers via outside mentors in their fields.

“It is not just for smart kids; it’s for kids who are dedicated and willing to persevere to reach their dreams,” said Clint Robinson, a Black & Veatch associate vice president for government affairs who served on the Blue Valley (Kansas) School District board when that system became the first to adopt CAPS in 2009. In the film, he adds: CAPS “doesn’t have to be in a bright, new shiny building” as long as educators and students are willing to teach and learn differently, respectively, and businesses “want to share what they do with a younger audience.”

Touting the virtues of the CAPS Network that’s swelled to 99 school districts in 13 states and two countries, “Where Students Lead” has its first public showing Wednesday at a theater in Leawood, Kansas, not far from the Blue Valley district and Black & Veatch’s global headquarters. Sponsored by Black & Veatch and Boston-based Northeastern University Network for Experiential Teaching and Learning (NExT),” the film then has screenings in Bentonville and Little Rock in Arkansas; St. Louis; Peoria, Arizona; Minneapolis; and Park City, Utah, before returning to the Leawood theater.

“Where Students Lead” focuses on practitioners of the CAPS model, recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a national exemplar and by the Edison Awards for educational innovations in readying students for higher education and the evolving workforce. The film also explores education’s evolution from 19th-century, post-industrialization schooling to now, when students under CAPS are pressed to proactively set their own courses while immersed in a professional culture. Those students solve real-world problems, use industry standard tools and are mentored by employers, all while getting high school and college credit.

The CAPS Network reached an inflection point in early 2017, when the Kansas City-based Kauffman Foundation sponsored a design session to uncover opportunities to expand profession-based learning. CAPS Network leaders recommended producing a documentary capturing the student experience and elevating the narrative of the CAPS education model, including disciplines related to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). 

“As a founding CAPS partner, Black & Veatch assisted in laying the foundation for success and supported our affiliate programs with industry input to help shape the direction of our STEM-related programs,” said Blue Valley CAPS Executive Director Corey Mohn. “Black & Veatch provides vital mentorship and opens doors for our students to work alongside professionals in the field. As we look to the future of our network, Black & Veatch continues to stay attuned to cultivating students’ interests, not only in learning about STEM but actively engaging in authentic projects that offer solutions impacting global communities.”

Black & Veatch’s investment in “Where Students Lead” was a natural extension of its longstanding commitment to STEM. Each year, the global construction, engineering and consulting company has sponsored regional Rube Goldberg Machine Contest competitions in which children build contraptions that accomplish a simple task. The company also has provided STEM initiatives like the Urban Advantage Program at the regional Museum at Prairiefire and “MakerSpace” opportunities in a local library.

About the CAPS Network

Headquartered in Overland Park, Kansas, and launched in the Blue Valley School District, the Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) Network’s programs share experiential learning best practices and innovative ideas for business and education partnerships. The CAPS model transforms the educational experience, centering on students' interests with opportunities for real-world immersion and authentic projects, resulting in highly-skilled, adaptable, global innovators and leaders. To learn more about the CAPS Network, visit

Editor's Notes

To watch the “Where Students Lead” film trailer, view a complete listing of screening event details and to purchase tickets, visit

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About Black & Veatch

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