Richland-Bean Blossom selected for third cohort of ROI Ready Schools initiative

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

Regional Opportunity Initiatives (ROI) has announced that Richland-Bean Blossom Community School Corporation (RBBCSC) has been selected for participation in the third cohort of ROI’s Ready Schools initiative. A development grant totaling $130,000 has been awarded 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.

“I am excited for the amazing opportunity Richland-Bean Blossom Community School Corporation has been given,” said Superintendent Jerry Sanders. “Through the ROI Ready Schools initiative, this opportunity to engage our stakeholders in a year long process will impact the future of our students and community in many life-changing ways.”

“Richland-Bean Blossom Community School Corporation is committed to preparing our students for whatever educational or career path they choose to follow after high school,” added Dana Kerr, president of the RBBCSC School Board. “RBBCSC is also committed to building partnerships with organizations and businesses that we have right here in our community and regional area. ROI’s Ready Schools grant will facilitate RBBCSC in furthering these commitments by helping us develop a program with stakeholders in the community and industry so that we can open doors between our students and their 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.

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 student 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.

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

“Richland Bean Blossom Community Schools is truly ready for the Ready Schools process,” said ROI President and CEO Tina Peterson. “They have been deliberate in building a foundation for teaching and learning that will allow them to make the most of the opportunity this initiative offers. Through a collaborative and innovative design process, they will co-create a system that prepares all students, pre-k through high school, for success in our regional economy. We couldn’t be more excited to see where Ready Schools takes RBBCSC.”

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 Ready Schools grants to 15 total 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.

Bloomfield School District is adopting a New Tech Network model. New Tech Network works with school systems, providing educator training, tools, and resources, to redefine relevant learning experiences that empower students to become the self-directed problem-solvers, creators, and collaborators that the modern workplace demands. New Tech Network has worked with 200 schools in 26 states. High schools that utilize the New Tech Network model average a 94% graduation rate and persist in college at a rate of 83%.

The Collaboration of Shoals, Mitchell, & Orleans Schools (known locally as COSMOS), represents three rural school districts in three separate Indiana Uplands counties that are working together. A core component of the COSMOS Ready Schools plan includes an academy model, with curricula, activities, and courses geared towards exploration and preparation in regionally relevant career pathways. Specific academy themes and pathways will be identified this year. COSMOS Academies are expected to officially launch in the 2020-21 school year with continual refinement thereafter. The three school districts will collaborate in the development and execution of the academies through combined educator training, virtual learning, transportation between high schools, and the establishment of a central location or hub for learning.

Spencer-Owen Community Schools will use its 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.

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.

Other examples of funded implementation projects include career awareness programming, work-based learning, professional development for teachers, STEM materials and curricula, and pathway development.

County School District Ready Schools Cohort Status 2019-2020 School Year
Brown Brown County School District IImplementation Year 2
Dubois Greater Jasper Community Schools IImplementation Year 2
Dubois Northeast Dubois Community Schools I Implementation Year 2
Dubois Southeast Dubois Community Schools I Implementation Year 2
Dubois Southwest Dubois Community Schools I Implementation Year 2
Martin Loogootee Community Schools I Implementation Year 2
Greene Bloomfield School District II Implementation Year 1
Monroe Monroe County Community School Corporation II Implementation Year 1
Owen Spencer-Owen Community Schools II Implementation Year 1
Martin Shoals Community Schools II Implementation Year 1
Lawrence Mitchell Community Schools II Implementation Year 1
Orange Orleans Community Schools II Implementation Year 1
Monroe Richland-Bean Blossom Community School Corporation III Planning Year
Greene Linton Stockton School Corporation III Planning Year
Greene White River Valley School Corporation III Planning Year

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. More information can be found at www.regionalopportunityinc.org.

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