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Best Practices: College and Career Ready in Kenton County Schools

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The following is a guest blog from Dr. Terri Cox-Cruey, the Superintendent for Kenton County Schools in Kentucky since 2011.

Our mission in the Kenton County School District is to ensure that every student is prepared for the global work market. As a system focused on providing excellence in instruction, and student business engagement, we are leading the region in initiatives designed to make certain all students graduate prepared for college or a career. Our Kenton County Academies are a program designed to ensure 100 percent of students participating are college and career ready. In our second year, we have doubled the enrollment of our scholars in the six academies: Biomedical Sciences, Media Arts, Sustainable Energy Technology Engineering, High Performance Production Technology, and the Informatics Academy.

The Kenton County Academies of Innovation and Technology provide a pipeline to anticipated jobs in the region. The six academies were strategically implemented using the expertise of an advisory team consisting of educators, administrators, students, industry experts, and postsecondary institutions. Utilizing anticipated job growth projection data for our region, the six academies were deemed a priority because our region will realize the largest job growth in those fields over the next few decades. Incorporating new career pathways that integrate with core content classes in order to prepare students for college and career readiness will be critical in the future of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Educational research shows that integration of academic content with career interests increases student engagement and achievement at all levels. The Kenton County Schools of Innovation and Technology will group students with the same career interest and with faculty that are deeply invested in the same field.

Northern Kentucky businesses and industry experts play a key role in this educational outreach program of studies. Under the academy structure, students will have the opportunity to attend a half-day program, potentially off their school campus. The senior year results in an early college, personalized learning plan that may feature apprenticeships, job shadows, project based learning, and internships. Each academy provides an opportunity for students to receive dual credits at a post secondary institution. Additionally, each academy boasts a business or industry partner who provides our students frequent interaction with industry experts and professionals. Academy Partners include Duke Energy, Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, Gateway Community & Technical College, Mazak, Mubea, Northern Kentucky Society of Professional Engineers, Northern Kentucky University, St. Elizabeth Medical Center, Thomas More College, University of Cincinnati, University of Kentucky, and Wagstaff.

Kenton County scholars in the Sustainable Energy Technology Engineering Academy entered their energy conservation projects in the National Energy Education Development Project (NEED) state contest for Youth Energy Achievers. Their project was selected as the most outstanding rookie project AND the most outstanding high school project. UpTech, the new business informatics accelerator for Northern Kentucky, partnered with the Northern Kentucky ezone to launch three scholarships for students at the Academies.

Six sophomores from the Academies were chosen for a pilot program for the Northern Kentucky Industry Partnership, which is designed to bring students face-to-face with peers to discuss the benefits of a high-tech career in manufacturing. The students participated in an internship at MAG, a manufacturing company in Hebron, Ky. The six students chosen for the Ambassador program received an unprecedented opportunity to learn about manufacturing, giving them a global work market experience

The Kenton County Academies of Innovation and Technology are committed to providing quality instruction, active student engagement and developing and maintaining strong relationships with our scholars and business partners. The Kenton County educators, parents and community leaders are dedicated to preparing these students for their productive futures.

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