Lean and Six Sigma clearly offer advantages to businesses, nonprofits and even governments that put them into action.
Given those successes, it was probably just a matter of time before someone realized the students themselves could benefit from the methodologies.
That’s what has happened in a small, rural school district in Ohio. When students graduate from Graham High School, they can receive more than just a diploma. They can also earn a Green Belt certification in Lean Six Sigma.
Local officials believe the program is one of the first of its kind in the country.
Success Today, Prepared for Tomorrow
Offering Lean Six Sigma fits into the overall theme that drives education decisions in the Graham Local Schools district. The district, headquartered in Saint Paris, serves about 2,000 students. The area around Saint Paris, located about 30 miles north of Dayton, is primarily used for agriculture.
The school district’s motto, according to superintendent Kirk Koennecke, is “Success today, prepared for tomorrow.”
It was students themselves who first showed interest in Lean Six Sigma as a way to improve their marketable skills. When classes in Lean Six Sigma were offered locally, no adults signed up. Students, however, did.
Seeing this, the school district responded. Now, every junior at Graham High School is given the training to earn their Yellow Belt in Lean Six Sigma.
“We will be the first high school that we know of in the United States that will have an entire class of students trained in Lean Six Sigma,” Adam Mowery, secondary education coordinator for Graham Local Schools, said in a video about the program.
Graduating seniors also will have the option to earn a Green Belt along with their high school graduation diploma.
As pointed out by Mowery, Lean Six Sigma methods can benefit students whether they plan to enter the workforce, join the military or go to college after graduation.
Part of the Plan
Incorporating Lean Six Sigma training is part of a forward-thinking mindset that drives the district’s overall plan. The rural district has managed to incorporate innovative ideas in a way many larger school systems have not.
For example, Graham Local Schools has created a new “21st century” learning lab. Students also can participate in on and off campus opportunities to learn in place-based, work-based and servicing learning environments, according to Ed.gov.
The innovation appears to be paying off. In a letter late in 2017 to parents on his webpage, Koennecke wrote that the number of students involved in college prep programs has doubled at Graham Local Schools. The school also received an award from United Way for its success in building educational partnerships with area businesses.