Lexington named Ford Next Generation Learning Community; FCPS launches Academies of Lexington

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In a special program with high-profile guests, Lexington was officially designated a Ford Next Generation Learning Community, and Fayette County Public Schools celebrated the launch of The Academies of Lexington in three of its six high schools.

“I could feel the enthusiasm and knew this community was ready,” said Cheryl Carrier, executive director of Ford NGL, who first met with city, industry, and FCPS leaders more than a year ago. “We have so many students with talent in our own backyard, and we need to tap into our high schools. Career academies improve student outcomes and community prosperity.”

The ceremony speakers included Malik Locke, a senior at host Bryan Station High School (left); Arianna Black, a junior at Frederick Douglass; and James McKenzie, a freshman at Tates Creek (Photo from FCPS)

For more than 10 years, Ford NGL has been transforming education in communities across the United States; its network is now 40 strong. This program uses an in-house academy model to mobilize high school educators, local employers, and community leaders to better prepare young people to compete in the 21st-century global economy. “This is a movement, the academy model, and we’re overwhelmed by the interest,” Carrier said, adding, “The students inspire us every day.”

The Academies of Lexington are in Phase 4 or implementation at Bryan Station, Frederick Douglass, and Tates Creek high schools, where students start in an exploratory freshman academy and then select a themed academy for grades 10 through 12. A student from each site spoke at the Nov. 14 ceremony: Malik Locke, a senior at host Bryan Station, who plans to study computer science at Berea College; Arianna Black, a junior at Douglass, leaning toward neonatal nursing; and James McKenzie, a freshman at Tates Creek and a budding pilot. “I’m proud to be part of the movement that’s making high school more relevant, engaging, and fun,” Arianna said.

Students in the academies learn through the lens of a potential career path such as Engineering, Manufacturing, and Robotics; Information Technology; Health/Medical Sciences; or Leadership and Professional Services. They participate in field trips, job shadowing, internships, and apprenticeships, and they benefit from working closely with professionals in their field of interest, which connects classroom knowledge to success in the workplace.

Ford NGL communities are supported by the philanthropic Ford Motor Company Fund, and they receive support through professional learning and coaching opportunities. To be designated as such, Lexington developed a three-year master plan to increase the number of students learning in career academies and to broaden its reach through affiliations with local business, education, and civic leaders.

“The Academies of Lexington give students voice and choice in their education. Early opportunities to explore areas of interest help students (plan) the trajectory of their future,” said FCPS Superintendent Manny Caulk. “By joining the Ford NGL network, Fayette County Public Schools is raising the bar. The true measure of success is not a high school diploma but where that diploma takes you in life.”

At the ceremony, Carrier thanked all the supporters and presented awards to the major partners here: the city of Lexington, represented by Mayor Jim Gray; FCPS, by Caulk; Commerce Lexington, by Carla Blanton; and the Business and Education Network, by Eric Sauvage. 

“We are here to unlock the untapped opportunity in Lexington,” said Daryl Smith, economic development project manager at LG&E and KU Energy, and chair-elect of BEN. “We must work together to establish a strong and diverse pipeline of talent. Together, we can shape the next generation of skilled workers.”

(Click for larger image)

From Fayette County Public Schools

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