New academy provides career-ready education in engineering, technology and advanced manufacturing fields

08/24/2015 11:50 AM

CARROLLTON – As Kentucky high school students settle in for another year at their respective schools, 42 freshmen from Gallatin, Owen, Carroll, Trimble and Henry Counties are getting accustomed to a brand new school where there are no books or chalkboards.

The iLead Academy, which opened in a renovated strip mall this month in Carrollton, is not your traditional high school. It’s Kentucky’s first regional academy for students who are interested in engineering, software technology, and advanced manufacturing fields.

House Appropriations and Revenue Committee Chairman Rep. Rick Rand, D-Bedford, who represents the region, led an effort to get $250,000 in 2014 for planning and development of iLead.

“What I’m hopeful that we’ll accomplish is give students who believe that a technical education is important, and, I agree with them, the opportunity to begin early in their career to achieve that,” Rand said. “There are very good jobs in those areas with those technical degrees.”

Students are bused to Carrollton from their home districts, and will spend their freshman and sophomore years at the iLead Academy and the Carroll County Area Technical Center. Their junior and senior years will be spent as a full time student at the Jefferson Community and Technical College’s Carrollton campus where they will earn a two-year college degree in addition to a high school diploma.

Alicia Sells, Director of Innovation, Communication, & Marketing for the Ohio Valley Educational Cooperative, says the students will be incredibly work-ready when they graduate from the academy.

“They will know how to operate in the work force,” Sells said. “Our entire mission statement is built around things that we’ve heard employers say they want in their employees. That they can work in groups. That they can communicate. They take initiative. That they understand collaboration, and designs, and innovations.”

The day-to-day operation of the academy is funded by the five districts and SEEK money for each of the students. There is hope that more iLead academies will be added around the commonwealth.

Don Weber

Don Weber is a Video Journalist for Spectrum News and covers politics and education on Pure Politics, Kentucky’s only nightly program dedicated to state politics. Don is a lifelong Kentuckian and a graduate of Northern Kentucky University. He spent many years covering sports in the Northern Kentucky area before shifting primarily to politics. You can watch Don’s work weeknights at 7:00 and 11:30 on Pure Politics, available exclusively on Spectrum News, HD Channels 403 and 715. If you have a story idea you can reach Don at donald.weber@charter.com.

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