Ignite Wins KSBA Public Education Achieves in Kentucky (PEAK) Award
Special for The River City News
Written by Matt McCarty of the Kentucky School Board Association
Two years ago, Boone County and Kenton County School Districts opened an innovative and collaborative new high school – Ignite Institute at the Roebling Innovation Center.
Ignite Institute offers students from both districts, as well as other students in the region, the opportunity to take courses in one of the seven areas of interest, which the school calls colleges – Bio-Medical / Sciences. from Healthcare, Engineering, IT / Computing, Construction Technology, Logistics, Design and Education – all of which could lead students to several different career paths.
“This partnership is revolutionary for our region and in public education,” said Randy Poe, chairman of the Northern Kentucky Education Council, who was Superintendent of Boone County at the opening of Ignite. “By pooling our resources, we know that the result will be transformational for the region by being the incubator of future careers leading to the attraction of employers and the creation of jobs.”
Partnership and innovation also led Ignite Institute to win the Spring 2021 KSBA Public Education Achieves in Kentucky (PEAK) Award.
“The Ignite Institute was created and designed to take an interdisciplinary approach to education to prepare a new generation of students for a future workforce, jobs and careers that may not exist. not be a year ago and many of which are still in development, ”said Boone County Superintendent Matthew Turner. “It certainly follows and advances what PEAK is, Public Education Achieves in Kentucky. “
The twice-yearly KSBA PEAK Prize was established in 1997 to bring statewide attention to the exceptional efforts of public schools that enhance student learning and promote the positive impact of schooling. public elementary and secondary education in Kentucky.
This spring marks the 53rd time that the PEAK Award will be presented. Boone County Schools and Kenton County Schools have each won the PEAK Award twice before this spring’s selection.
“Ignite started out as a concept of what education could be. Boone County management and the board of directors asked many “what if” questions and nothing was on the table. The “what ifs” became “we can” and Ignite went from a dream to a reality, ”said Karen Byrd, Boone County School Board member and KSBA president-elect. “Ignite embodies the spirit of innovative education in collaboration with the Northern Kentucky region. And it can only continue to grow and improve as we expand the educational pathway offerings and acquire more business partnerships. The best days are yet to come. Boone County schools own the Ignite Institute, which is housed in a 180,000 square foot building donated by Toyota. Boone and Kenton County Schools have reached an agreement to combine Ignite with the Kenton Academy of Innovation and Technology.
“The Kenton County School District is excited about this partnership and what it will do to ensure that world-class education is available to all students. One of our goals in Kenton County is to prepare students for college or a career, and partnering with Ignite will help us achieve that, ”said Kenton County Superintendent Henry Webb.
Ignite uses project-based learning to provide students with authentic, real-life experiences that will prepare them for the jobs of the future. Students receive a blended learning experience allowing them to work collaboratively and independently.
Each week, Ignite students have two “production days” where students and teachers have the opportunity to collaborate with business and industry partners. On these days, regional companies have the opportunity to work with students. Production days allow employers to guide students in acquiring the skills needed to make an immediate and long-term contribution to the workforce through areas of in-company mentoring, real-world projects, and job training. Workforce.
“Students who complete this program will be prepared as productive citizens who collaborate with their teammates and possess a unique set of soft skills immediately applicable to our workforce,” wrote Carl Wicklund, a member of the County School Board. Kenton, in a letter supporting the nomination for Ignite’s PEAK Award. .
“Our region / state needs programs like Ignite to make sure all students are ready for college and careers,” he added. “It is truly unique to have two large, innovative Kentucky school districts collaborating on such a large scale to ensure children have world-class educational opportunities while focusing on the labor demands specific to our region. “
The school opened with approximately 1,000 students with the goal of having 45% of the student body in Boone and Kenton school districts, with the remaining 10% coming from other districts in northern Kentucky. Ignite receives funding from the District of Boone, Kenton and Walton-Verona Independent, which have memoranda of understanding. Additional funding is received from SEEK, funds for locally managed career centers from KDE and several grants, among others.
The PEAK nomination for Ignite noted that local colleges and other public institutions have played “a crucial role” in the planning and development of the school. Industry partners collaborate with curriculum specialists and create mentoring opportunities for students who provide the skills necessary to succeed in a competitive job market.
“Today’s students must have experiences that will give them the confidence and interpersonal skills necessary to be a competitive and productive professional,” the Districts wrote in the PEAK nomination.
The curriculum structure is based on the Seven College Career Paths, which begin at the freshman level and focus on high-demand career opportunities. Students can earn an associate’s degree, and college credits earned are transferable to all public colleges in Kentucky. Research shows that students who take 30 or more hours of meaningful double-credit courses have a 95% chance of earning a bachelor’s degree in four years or less. Additionally, there is a pathway within each college for students who do not want to pursue Dual Credit Opportunities.
The school has an Ignite Ambassador Program, where students take responsibility for introducing Ignite to people around the world in education or industry. These opportunities “allow students to share their research projects with advisory committees in the field. Knowing the material and knowing how to communicate it are key drivers of academic success, ”the districts wrote in their PEAK nomination.