Graphic says: Jefferson County Public Schools, FY23 MSAP, Helping Students find their NICHE: Nurturing Inclusive Choices and High-Quality Education

A new, $9.7 million, five-year federal grant will strengthen whole-school magnet programs at Western High School and Coleridge-Taylor Elementary in Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) with a focus on increasing diversity and improving student learning.

JCPS was awarded the highly competitive Magnet Schools Assistance Program (MSAP) grant last month, with project activities scheduled to begin immediately.

“This prestigious grant provides a tremendous opportunity to bolster the support for our magnet schools and programs, ensuring that our students have access to diverse learning environments that offer enhanced educational opportunities,” said Amanda Averette-Bush, executive administrator of School Choice. “The MSAP grant has been a long-sought goal for our district, and we are excited to leverage this support to achieve even greater success for our students in magnet schools.”

JCPS’ Helping Students Find their NICHE: Nurturing Inclusive Choices and High-Quality Education project focuses on boosting student and staff resources and marketing efforts to draw a racially and economically diverse swath of students from across Jefferson County to Western’s STEM magnet and Coleridge-Taylor’s Montessori magnet.

The NICHE project will impact about 2,100 students during the five-year grant period, and funding will be used to:

  • Build partnerships supporting the magnet themes, teachers, students, and families.

  • Use engaging instructional methods, including inquiry-based, problem-based learning that fosters critical thinking, collaboration, problem-solving, and a high level of student engagement.

  • Transform instruction through job-embedded professional development with high-quality providers, partners, and highly-qualified teachers committed to the magnet school theme and purpose.

  • Implement a detailed branding, outreach, marketing, and communication plan for both schools over the next five years.

  • Purchase equipment, materials, and supplies for teacher and student use in the implementation of the magnet themes.

Western will become the only STEM high school in JCPS for the 2024-25 school year, and Coleridge-Taylor will be the only public elementary Montessori school in Louisville.

Western’s STEM focus will allow students to engage in rigorous, exciting coursework in computer programming, digital design and game development, data science, and culinary food science.

JCPS has three highly sought after Math/Science/Technology (MST) magnet programs at Newburg, Meyzeek and Farnsley Middle schools, which collectively serve about 1,500 MST students. While JCPS has two high schools that offer MST or STEM-focused programs, there currently is no full-school magnet program available, and current capacity cannot accommodate all 1,500 MST middle school students. Beginning in 2024-25, Western will be the only high school STEM magnet in JCPS with a capacity to serve more than 1,400 students in grades nine through 12.

Coleridge-Taylor currently has a Montessori magnet program for a portion of its student population. Shifting to a district-wide, whole-school elementary Montessori magnet will complete the Montessori education pipeline for JCPS students and families, with the opportunity to continue their Montessori-themed education at Westport Middle and Central High School.

Coleridge-Taylor will provide a hands-on, inquiry-based, project-based learning experience that supports the holistic development of students. It will provide opportunities for students to engage in self-directed learning, promoting student choice and voice. Students will participate in community-integrated, justice-inspired interdisciplinary activities to support their growth and development as positive community change agents.

By Juliann Morris