iLEAD Academy completes first year with high praise from students

06/13/2016 06:02 PM

CARROLLTON – Thirty-nine students, who have successfully completed their first year at the iLEAD Academy, Kentucky’s first regional academy for students who are interested in engineering, software technology, and advanced manufacturing fields, have said that their first year at the academy was a huge success.

The academy, located in Carrollton, is a cooperative effort between the Carroll, Gallatin, Henry, Owen, and Trimble County school districts. The day-to-day operations of the academy are funded by the five districts and SEEK money for each of the students.

Oscar Garcia, a student from Gallatin County who completed his first year at the academy, told members of the Interim Joint Committee on Education, who held their meeting at iLEAD on Monday, that the program helped him grow in ways far more than at a traditional high school.

“iLEAD has helped us to grow in maturity,” Garcia said. “For us, who understand and easily want to learn things, we want to continue to learn at our pace, and that’s what iLEAD has done for us.”

The academy features a “blended learning” environment which empowers students to learn online and with teacher instruction. Students have control over the time, pace, path and place of learning.

Even with the new “hands on” style of learning, Alicia Sells, director of Innovation for the Ohio Valley Educational Cooperative, which oversees iLEAD, says students are still held to the same state assessment standards as traditional high school students.

“The online learning system allows us to administer a pre-test to determine their level of competence and where they can fit in that scheme, and they take capacity tests throughout those online courses and an end or course exam,” Sells said. “They’ll also take on-demand writing as sophomores.”

A key to the continued success of iLEAD and its students is the fact that officials at the academy has built relationships with the surrounding business community finding out what skill set they want in prospective employees.

“We’ve taken Project Lead the Way, and developed hybrid pathways in automotive, welding, electrical, so that it’s connected to employers about the latest technical skills that they need to go into the work force,” Sells said. “We also spend a lot of time talking with Kentucky FAME, and the skills that’s needed there.”

After iLEAD students attend the academy their freshman and sophomore years, they will enroll full-time in Jefferson Community and Technical College Carrollton Branch, their junior and senior years and will graduate with a high school diploma as well as an Associate’s Degree, at a third of the open market cost.


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