A $100,000 grant from Ford Motor Company will help transform some Jefferson County high schools into career-themed academies.
The grant comes after 18 months of collaboration between JCPS officials and community leaders to develop a plan that will help prepare students for life after graduation.
JCPS Superintendant Donna Hargens said the Ford Next Generation Learning program will help connect the classroom to the workplace.
“You can learn math in isolation or you can learn chemistry in isolation or you can learn it in the real world application of using it,” Hargens said. “It connects how you’re going to use it in application to actually using the skill.”
The program outlines four goals that school and community leaders hope to reach by 2016:
· Improve graduation rates from 76.5 percent in 2013 to 83.7 percent.
· Decrease student dropout rate to 3.8 percent.
· Increase college and career readiness among students from 51.3 percent in 2013 to 72.4 percent.
· Have all students at 5-star schools enrolled in a 5-star career academy.
JCPS currently has 15 5-star schools in the district.
Nearly 20 communities nationwide already work with the Ford Next Generation Learning program to develop 5-star career academies, said Cheryl Carrier, director of Ford Next Generation Learning.
“It is really remarkable to see how this community has come together to support this,” Carrier said. “There is a wonderful spirit of collaboration here.”
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said inclusion into the Ford Next Generation Learning program will help the cities continuing effort to produce STEM related jobs and attract businesses to the area.
“We know that to compete in the future economy and have a quality of life in our city we have to have a workforce that is ready,” Fishcer said.
Participation in the national program will give Jefferson County high schools the opportunity to connect with other communities involved in the initiative in an effort to ensure best practices and most practical solutions are used, official said.
The grant will be used to transform teaching methods in an effort to redesign the high school experience in a way that students will be excited to learn concepts and have the ability to apply those skills in everyday life, Hargens said.
“It motivates students to want to learn,” Hargens said. “That’s why we know it is going to have a huge impact, because our mission is instruction that inspires students to learn.”