The Pinellas County School Board unanimously approved an innovative five-year planning grant aimed at helping high school students be better prepared for the future. The program is called Academies of Pinellas, and it will involve multiple sectors of the community to create relevant education for today’s changing work environment.
The first goal of the Academies of Pinellas is to consolidate the different academies (Centers of Excellence, career academies, themed academies, Career and Professional Education ‘CAPE’ academies) under the Academies of Pinellas. Other goals include
Making learning relevant – more learning through application.
Promoting academies and certifications that address community and workforce needs.
Increasing the number of academies in all high schools.
Making schools smaller as a result of creating multiple academies in each high school.
Integrating core subjects into themed programs.
Operating most academies with an open enrollment process.
Respecting the dignity of all work and educational pursuits.
Having involved community and business advisory boards supporting academies.
Statistics show that students not only succeed when they are enrolled in coursework that’s relevant, but they are better prepared for life after high school whether their choice is to attend college, enter the workforce or obtain further technical training. “I applaud our School Board members for understanding the urgency of challenging our students, which the Academies of Pinellas certainly will do,” said Pinellas Schools interim superintendent John Stewart. “I further applaud everyone, school district personnel and community partners alike, who worked hard to bring this opportunity to fruition.”
Academies of Pinellas will incorporate much of what has already proven successful with the Centers of Excellence and expand on that formula to broaden opportunities for high school students. The plan will ensure that every region of the county offers the most successful programs to give students a greater variety of choices based on their interests and aptitudes in addition to improving the graduation rate.
“We know that students in Career Academies academically out-perform students in the general school population across the state of Florida,” stated Gerry Hogan, co-chair of the Career Education Board. “With funding from Ford and under the leadership of administrators from Pinellas County Schools and school board members, Pinellas County business and civic leaders, our goal is for 50% of students to be enrolled in Career Academies by 2017. This experience will translate to higher graduation rates, fewer absences, and higher FCAT scores.”
The support of various community and civic groups such as the numerous area chambers and rotary clubs, the Urban League and the St. Petersburg NAACP among others have not only been crucial to the success of the plan’s adoption but will continue to be vital in its implementation. For more information including a short video, please visit www.pinellaseducation.org/careers.