Ready Schools aims to align school districts with the education and workforce needs of employers and industry in the Indiana Uplands
Regional Opportunity Initiatives (ROI) has announced that Linton-Stockton School Corporation and White River Valley School District have been selected for participation in the third cohort of ROI’s Ready Schools initiative. A total of $260,000 in development grants has been awarded to these two school districts to support an in-depth design process over the next ten months.
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.
“We are excited to welcome Linton-Stockton and White River Valley as part of the third cohort of school districts utilizing the Ready Schools process,” said Dr. Todd Hurst, vice president of talent development at ROI. “Both districts highly impressed our team throughout the application phase, and we can’t wait to see where the process will take them in the future.”
Cohort III school districts will begin the first phase of the Ready Schools process in August. A District Readiness Coordinator will guide locally developed advisory and design teams through the year-long design thinking process. A coach from ROI will work side by side with the District Readiness Coordinator through the year-long process.
“At Linton-Stockton, we recognize that not all students learn in the same way or at the same pace,” said Dr. Kathy Goad, superintendent of Linton-Stockton School Corporation. “It is our vision that we create a learning environment where every student can follow their passion in a personalized manner. This is why the Ready Schools Initiative grant was a perfect fit for our future-forward mindset.”
The goal of the Ready Schools Initiative 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 and a comprehensive plan 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.
“We are pleased to have this special opportunity,” said Dr. Bob Hacker, superintendent of White River Valley School District. “We are also extremely thankful for the area patrons and business people who supported our grant application. It is just another example of the vision for our school and our community and doing what we can to give students great opportunities for success, both in our programs and in building great career paths.”
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 P-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
Since 2017, ROI has awarded Ready Schools grants to 14 school systems in the region. Schools that have completed a Ready Schools development grant are eligible to apply for implementation funding.
Ready Schools implementation funding has been used to support new school district strategic plans with action items that align workforce needs of employers in the Indiana Uplands. For example, Brown County schools and Loogootee Community Schools utilized implementation funding to launch student-run manufacturing businesses during the 2018-2019 school years.
The four school districts of Dubois County have used a portion of their Ready Schools implementation grant to establish a county-level career and innovation hub on the campus of Vincennes University Jasper Campus (VUJC). Called Hub 19 (https://www.hub19.org/), this facility is working to become the county’s central location where industry, educators, and students can collaborate and develop new educational and career development tools and resources.
Other examples of funded implementation projects include career awareness programming, work-based learning, professional development for teachers, STEM materials and curricula, and pathway development.
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.