Hamilton County Schools has added $75,000 in funding from the Perkins Reserve Consolidated Grant to start Future Ready Institutes in schools this fall. Education Commissioner Candice McQueen announced the grant recipients. The announcement comes as Future Ready Institutes teachers are in training this week at Unum. The grant will provide opportunities for teachers to attend conferences and training sessions focused on Career Academy best practices, national standards, project-based learning, design thinking instruction and early post-secondary learning programs.
Hamilton was one of 88 school districts to receive funding from the $2.2 million new grant application for the 2018-2019 school year. This is the first year systems could apply using one application for funding from the Perkins Reserve Grant, the Tennessee Department of Education’s New Skills for Youth grant, and the Experienced Professionals in the Classroom project supporting the implementation of high-quality career pathways for Tennessee students.
Future Ready Institutes will challenge the traditional approach to education in high schools by developing career-themed small learning communities. Themes will include medicine, robotics, forensic science, engineering, hospitality, technology and more. Teachers of all content areas including English, math, science and social studies will work closely with the career theme teacher to provide classroom instruction through the lens of a career. The goal is for students to clearly understand why a lesson is important and how they will use the information in the future.
“Teachers are participating in intensive professional development at Unum this week to retool how they teach core academic subjects through the field of study aligned with their respective institute,” said Blake Freeman, director of Future Ready Institutes of Hamilton County Schools.
“The training funded and hosted by Unum will focus on the use of project-based learning in the classroom that will encourage students to solve real-world problems.”
Unum, a Chattanooga-based provider of employee benefits and income protection, is providing $300,000 in funding for training over the next three years. The training includes the week-long session at Unum’s Chattanooga offices underway this week. The five-day training session at Unum will engage the school teams in two days of training on the use of project-based learning in classroom instruction. The school groups will also spend two days on Wednesday and Thursday embedded into a job site in the community getting practical experience in the program they will teach to high school students. The last day on Friday will involve group planning for the first year of the Future Ready Institutes.
On-site job locations for Wednesday and Thursday include the Chattanooga Police Department, Chattanooga Fire Department, Hamilton County District Attorney, TVA, Unum, Erlanger, the Tennessee Aquarium, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, EPB, PEF and Gestamp.
“It is essential that graduates of Hamilton County Schools are future-ready and prepared to succeed in college or a career,” said Dr. Bryan Johnson, superintendent of Hamilton County Schools. “The re-imagining of the middle school experience and Future Ready Institutes will personalize student learning by providing a rich academic experience and the flexibility for young learners to identify the interests they are passionate about in their life.”