Academy of Louisville graduates begin life after high school prepared for college, careers

More than 3,700 graduates ready for college or career

By Jennifer Brislin ] JCPS Communications

After Doss High School senior Sincer Thomas walks across the stage Friday night, the Business and Finance Academy graduate will be taking more than just four years of high school memories with her. 

From making a budget to saving for books and putting money aside from her part-time job for a car, Thomas, who will start Jefferson Community and Technical College in the Fall, will be able to draw on her experience at Academy partner Class Act Credit Union as she organizes her resources for college and prepares for her financial future. 

Doss High School senior Sincer Thomas works in her position at Class Act

“I probably would never have worked at the credit union if it hadn’t been for the Academy,” Thomas said, adding that she honed her communication skills, gained confidence and learned important money matters through her job there.

“The Academy taught me about my finances, how I can prioritize my spending and how I should be protecting my money,” she said.  “Finances are a part of your life, forever.”

Thomas is one of 3,733 Class of 2019 graduates from an Academies of Louisville (AOL) school.  The initiative, which equips students with the skills, know-how and experience to meet the needs of a 21st century workforce, has given the seniors a leg up as they begin college or careers:

  • Academies of Louisville students graduating this year earned 522 college credit hours in career and technical education (CTE), saving more than $83,000 in college fees. Some are even graduating with enough credits for an associate degree.
  • Graduating seniors have earned 865 industry certifications. From Microsoft and Google certifications to welding and automotive certifications, these credentials are as varied as the 155 career pathways available.
  • JCPS students, including those in the Academies of Louisville, who participated in Work-Based Learning have worked more than 300,000 hours and earned $3.5 million.

“Integrating classroom and workplace experiences is a key part of the Academies of Louisville,” said Christy Rogers, assistant superintendent of transition readiness. “In just two short years, our students are already seeing a tangible benefit, in terms of exposure to a variety of in-demand fields, industry-specific education and training and hands-on work experience.  Regardless of whether their post high school plan is to go to college or straight to a career, our students are ready for both.”   

The initiative launched at the start of the 2017-18 school year and already the impact has been dramatic:  More than 17,600 students are now engaged in 53 unique career pathways at 14 JCPS high schools – with a 15th school coming on board next year.  At its start, the Academies boasted 13 business partners; today, the number of companies involved has ballooned to 111. 

The academy model connects high schools to business and community partners in order to align education and workforce development needs, and allows students to connect what they’re learning in the classroom to the real world through a subject that interests them. The industry-specific training and practical application of what they’re learning in the classroom helps ensure students are ready to compete for the increasingly high-tech, high-skilled and high-paying roles of the 21st century. 

“Over the next five years, we are expecting 32,000 new jobs in the Louisville metro area—4,500 of which will be in healthcare,” Rogers said.  “Manufacturing, which now accounts for more than 83,000 Louisville jobs, is slated to bring more than 4,500 jobs to the area by 2023.  Thousands of high-paying potential careers are waiting for our students right here in Louisville—if they’re ready.  The Academies of Louisville helps ensure that they are.”

Thomas is proof of that.

She earned her Credit Union National Association (CUNA) certification while in high school, and although she plans on majoring in psychology in college, Thomas said it’s reassuring to know she can always put that certification to use.

“Working for the credit union has really given me something to think on,” she said.  “I know I can always go get a job there because I have my certification.”

Follow JCPS online on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and YouTube.

This article was originally published by JCPS on Wednesday, June 5, 2019.