Spencer-Owen Community Schools awarded $500,000 ROI Ready Schools implementation grant

Initiative aims to align school districts to the education and workforce needs of employers and industry in the Indiana Uplands

Regional Opportunity Initiatives (ROI) is pleased to announce that Spencer-Owen Community Schools has been awarded a Ready Schools implementation grant totaling $500,000. The funding will support Spencer-Owen’s multi-year strategic plan with initiatives focused on curriculum alignment, career awareness, project-based learning, employability skills development, professional development for teachers, and innovative and
collaborative learning environments.

“We appreciate the partnership we have with ROI,” said Superintendent Chad Briggs. “The resources and guidance provided by ROI have allowed our stakeholders to come together and develop a plan that is specific to our students and staff. The meaningful collaborations that have taken place between our staff and the community will continue to provide sustainable career-oriented initiatives. It’s an exciting time in Spencer-Owen Community Schools. We look forward to what comes next.”

Spencer-Owen Community Schools will use the ROI-funded grant to create hands-on learning, an articulated K-12 Career Awareness framework, and reimagined space for a Future Center at the Owen Valley High School. The Future Center will serve as a hub for K-career resources, including mock interviewing, assistance with applications, mentoring, certification training, and modern collaborative learning spaces.

“Students will benefit from increased career awareness education at all levels,” added Briggs. “Beginning at the elementary school level, students will be exposed to the many different types of careers and industries that exist in the Indiana Uplands, and this engagement will continue through job shadowing and internships at the high school level.”

Spencer Owen Community Schools will also create Patriot Manufacturing, a student-run manufacturing enterprise. Patriot Manufacturing will engage students in all aspects of running a business, including project management, design, production, marketing, and customer relations.

“We are very excited about the addition of Patriot Manufacturing, which will be a self-sustaining, student-run business located inside Owen Valley High School,” said District Readiness Coordinator Kris Samick. “Patriot Manufacturing will offer our students the unique opportunity for real-world experiences and relevant job prep, including training in advanced manufacturing. We appreciate the continued support from ROI and our local business partnerships as we begin the production process.”

The ROI implementation grant award to Spencer-Owen Community Schools follows a 10-month development grant for the Ready Schools design-thinking process. The Ready Schools Initiative is a framework to support school districts in aligning K-12 curricular and programmatic offerings to educational and workforce needs within the Indiana Uplands, an 11-county region that encompasses Brown, Crawford, Daviess, Dubois, Greene, Lawrence, Martin, Monroe, Orange, Owen and Washington counties.

The goal of the Ready Schools development process is to enable school districts to engage business leaders, community stakeholders, parents and students in meaningful dialogue about what school success means and to develop a plan to obtain that success. The result is a collaborative approach designed to support students in achieving academic and career goals aligned with workforce, with a particular focus on the region’s key industry sectors: advanced manufacturing, life sciences, and national security and defense.

For a description of activities at each Ready Schools phase:
go to https://regionalopportunityinc.org/details-of-the-ready-schools-initiative/

In 2017, ROI released its Occupational Needs Assessment to highlight the education and workforce needs of the advanced manufacturing, life sciences and national security and defense sectors in the counties of Indiana Uplands. The Assessment emphasizes that employers struggle to find talent for all levels of jobs, ranging from entry-level positions requiring only a high school diploma to highly technical jobs requiring advanced degrees and training. All of the employers interviewed noted the significant role that the region’s K-12 districts play in addressing these workforce challenges.

The six core principles that guide cohort work through the Ready Schools process build upon the results of the Occupational Needs Assessment and include:

  • Every student is engaged in a relevant path to success;
  • Students graduate high school ready for post-secondary and career success;
  • Meaningful and ongoing collaboration occurs among schools, industry, and community;
  • Teaching and learning are grounded in relevancy;
  • K-12 schools are aligned around a common vision of student success; and Schools embrace the significant role they play in achieving regional prosperity

“We are thrilled to see the excitement and positive energy that Spencer-Owen Community Schools and its many stakeholders have exhibited throughout the Ready Schools process,” said Tina Peterson, president and CEO of ROI. “The collaboration that brought this plan together will help ensure positive outcomes for students, the community, and the Indiana Uplands region. Innovative thinking and a K-12 comprehensive strategy for implementation is evident throughout their Ready Schools plan and we are looking forward to seeing the impact of the new Future Center, Patriot Manufacturing, and their extensive Career Awareness framework.”

Schools that have completed a Ready Schools development grant are eligible to apply for implementation funding. Since 2017, ROI has awarded Ready Schools development grants to 12 total school systems in the region. Spencer Owen Community Schools is the seventh Indiana Uplands school district to be awarded an ROI Ready Schools implementation grant.

ROI Ready Schools Development Grants:

2017Brown County Schools
2017Dubois County Collaboration:
-Greater Jasper Consolidated Schools
-Northeast Dubois County School Corporation
-Southwest Dubois County School Corporation
-Southeast Dubois County School Corporation
2017Loogootee Community Schools
2018Bloomfield School District
2018 Monroe County Community School Corporation
2018 Spencer-Owen Community Schools
2018 Mitchell/Orleans/Shoals Collaboration:
-Mitchell Community Schools
-Orleans Community Schools
-Shoals Community School Corporation

Ready Schools Implementation Grants:

2018 Brown County Schools
2018 Dubois County Collaboration:
-Greater Jasper Consolidated Schools
-Northeast Dubois County School Corporation
-Southwest Dubois County School Corporation
-Southeast Dubois County School Corporation
2018 Loogootee Community Schools
2019 Spencer-Owen Community Schools

About Regional Opportunity Initiatives, Inc.:

The mission of Regional Opportunity Initiatives, Inc. (ROI) is to support economic and community prosperity in the 11 counties of the Indiana Uplands (Brown, Crawford, Daviess, Dubois, Greene, Lawrence, Martin, Monroe, Orange, Owen and Washington counties). ROI is implementing education and workforce initiatives and regional engagement initiatives for quality of place development.

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