Class of 2021 first to have 4 years’ experience in Academies model
June 3, 2021 – Cheyenne Elrod has wanted to follow in the footsteps of her aunt, a nurse, ever since she was a little girl. After spending all four of her high school years in Waggener High School’s Health Science Academy, Elrod is one step closer to that goal.
Elrod is among the first group of Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) graduates who have four years’ experience in the Academies of Louisville model. The hands-on learning initiative gives high school students a chance to learn a trade or profession, earn critical industry certifications, and work for Louisville-area companies in the field.
During her years in the Academy, Elrod has earned certificates in first aid and using an automated external defibrillator (AED), and she can take blood pressure, identify a stroke and perform other health check-up tasks. Those credentials helped land her a job with one of the Academies of Louisville partners, Trilogy Health Services, at its Westport Place senior living campus.
“I do feel like they (Waggener teachers) have prepared me to know what I want to do and go after it, no matter how hard it is to get there,” Elrod said.
JCPS launched the Academies of Louisville program in 2017 to better align education and workforce development needs by connecting high schools to business and community partners. Students explore career fields based on their school’s specific academies – everything from health sciences to law, from culinary to automotive engineering – and develop the essential skills, experiences and networks they need to succeed throughout college, careers and life.
“These seniors are the first group to go through all four years of the academy model,” said Christy Rogers, JCPS assistant superintendent for high schools. “They’re coming with dual credits in their pockets, industry certifications, work-based experiences, a mentor, connections to the real world. It’s a big deal."
Elrod plans to keep working for Trilogy and take a semester off from school before attending Jefferson Community and Technical College (JCTC), where she hopes to pursue an associate degree in nursing. She wants to become a nurse practitioner and work with children.
She has high praise for her Waggener Academy experience, and one health science teacher in particular -- Lindsay Reed.
“She’s been my savior,” Elrod said of Reed. “If it wasn’t for her I probably would have given up on my dream of becoming a nurse.”