Students embraced Xello with enthusiasm as they realized how it could help them shape their own futures

Students embraced Xello with enthusiasm as they realized how it could help them shape their own futures

The Challenge

When El Dorado High School CTE educator Ashlee Curtis introduced students to future readiness software Xello, they didn’t jump for joy. In fact, they may have crossed their arms and rolled their eyes.

She took it in stride.

“Change is hard on our young babies. When we throw something at them that they don’t know anything about… it can be rough.”

But the Arkansas school needed a tool to help their students plan for their future success. Failure was not an option.

School
El Dorado High School
Location
Arkansas
Problem
Students lacked a connection between what they were learning in the present and how they can succeed in the future.
Solution
Xello made it easy for students to learn about how their passions and skills could translate into a future career.

The Solution

Curtis and her colleagues forged ahead with Xello. They began to devote some of the extended home room periods twice a week to the future readiness platform. It took a bit of time, but the tide of skepticism turned. It happened right before her eyes in a special education class when one student made a startling discovery as she worked through career explorations based on her interests and skills.

“[The student] said, ‘Y’all, look! It says I could own my own business!’ I can’t remember what kind of business she was excited about, but, in that moment, that student was able to see hope; she was able to see that she could defy the odds,” said Curtis.

Once word got out that Xello was a tool that could tell you what kind of career you should pursue based on your interests—including how much money you could make—it became a popular topic for hallway conversations. Curtis says she often hears, “Hey, what did Xello say you could be?” as she moves through the school.

“When they started digging in, they looked at the options like, ‘I actually do like stuff like that,’ and ‘I have no idea what that is. Let me look into that.’ And then when you throw the dollar signs in there with [the careers], it becomes a real hot topic.”

Today, instead of groaning that homeroom is coming up, students are racing to finish their Xello lessons.

“That’s the cool thing around campus right now: Who can finish their lessons first. I’ve noticed that students are even logging into Xello outside of our homeroom classes. When I saw that, I was like, ‘Okay, we got them now. We’ve sold them.’”

El Dorado High School
96%
Graduation rate
22
AP courses offered
86
Staff members – 12 are alumni

“It was almost as if [Xello] knocked down the limitations for some of our students. Teachers encourage them all the time. We tell them, ‘You can do anything you’d like to do.’ But how many students actually believe us? When they see a career match for themselves, based on information about themselves that they put into Xello, that’s huge for them. That was our turning point.”

Ashlee Curtis, CTE educator, El Dorado High School

The Results

In two months, resistant students have embraced the EdTech that has helped them know themselves better and prepare them for their future in other ways, too. Junior classes are learning how to build a resume from the information they’ve used to create a personalized profile. Senior students are exploring scholarship opportunities and organizing their transcripts, essays, and test scores using the platform.

“We also use Xello as a communications device to our senior students,” said Curtis, noting that it’s efficient and useful to keep all college and career-related information in one place.

Another benefit to the program is that teachers are getting to know their students better. With more than 1,900 students to serve, it’s tough to ensure every last one of them is on a path that’s suited for them.

“As teachers, we’re able to see their interests in Xello. So, if a student is signed up for art but they can’t get into that class, what is something else they’d be interested in, based on what they’ve created in Xello? We’re able to create a student-led atmosphere,” said Curtis.

Advice for Districts Transitioning to Xello

Change is hard for more than just students. Introducing a new EdTech tool can have a learning curve for educators and administrators too. Curtis recommends looking for the solution that will best suit your district’s needs and committing to it despite the challenges you may encounter as you get it up and running.

“Take the leap of faith and don’t give up if it gets hard. When our students weren’t having it, we could have tapped out, but we stepped back and figured out a way to get their interest,” said Curtis.

At El Dorado, that meant trading off classes among teachers who were uniquely suited for each topic.

“One thing we’re really good at is collaborating with each other. We try to make sure that no student, just because of whose class they’re in, gets left behind.”

Now that the initial wrinkles have been ironed out and students are excited about using Xello, El Dorado School District is on a high.

“Our students are now pursuing the things that interest them. They’re not doing something because somebody else told them to, or to earn a grade. They’re doing something for them, and it’s for the better of their future. They understand that, and it works,” said Curtis.

“That’s the thing we really love about Xello. Everybody’s screen looks different because each student is unique. I feel like the biggest reward that our students get is feeling understood and individualized.”

That was El Dorado High School’s success story—now it’s time to write yours. Learn how Xello can help students at your district get college and career ready. Book My Demo

About the School
El Dorado High School prides itself on being a community where students, staff, and parents feel empowered, nurtured, and valued. Students are not required to choose between academics, arts, and athletics, but are instead encouraged to pursue excellence in all areas of interest. The school has a proud tradition that is currently in transition to meet heightened expectations for curriculum and instruction and a changing population with changing needs. Almost three-quarters of students are involved in demanding and highly successful extracurricular activities and academic pursuits.
ABOUT HEATHER

Heather Hudson is a Toronto-based freelance writer and journalist. She specializes in content marketing, corporate storytelling and good old-fashioned journalism. You can read some of her work in The Toronto Star and learn more about her at heatherhudson.ca.