Innovative Programs at Fayette County Schools

girl-on-horseHorse Sense at The Stables

When Brian McIntyre was the employment and training specialist at Fayette County’s AIM and Project Rebound, he had plenty of success placing students in jobs at the Kentucky Horse Park and with Central Kentucky Riding for Hope, an equestrian program for children with disabilities.

After learning that CKRH had an empty warehouse, he conferred with CKRH’s Denise Spittler and Pat Kline, and they worked up a plan to move Project Rebound to the Horse Park and rename it The Stables.

Rachel Baker, who formerly ran AIM and Project Rebound, is the principal and McIntyre is the Administrative Dean.

The program, which serves students who have struggled in traditional school settings, provides classroom instruction but also engages the teenagers in activities that focus on life skills such as problem solving, communication, team building and development of positive relationships.

“Our ultimate job is to place kids in jobs,” McIntyre says. “This year we placed four kids after completing the program.”

Students can participate in the Equine-Assisted Interpersonal Skills class and shadow professionals in the work force.

While they learn about caring for the horses used in Central Kentucky Riding for Hope’s programs, they are also learning about hard work and responsibility while developing confidence and self-esteem.

The Stables, which will begin its third year this fall, has 54 students enrolled, with a goal of 60 students in the future.

Info: 333-5827.

Technology Program Picks Up STEAM

Last fall, 150 high school freshman became the first class at Fayette County’s new STEAM Academy, an innovative program that combines individualized, problem-based learning with an intense use of technology.

This fall another class of 150 will join the program that focuses on science, technology, engineering, art and math.

Housed in the former Johnson Elementary building on East Sixth Street, the school has a close partnership with the University of Kentucky, allowing students to take dual credit college classes in their junior and senior years.

Led by a staff of 12 full-time and two part-time teachers, students do work at their own pace, completing courses in one semester that usually require two semesters at other high schools.

This schedule requires motivation from students, said Jack Hayes, Director of Innovation and School Improvement at STEAM.

“We work from the belief that all kids don’t learn in the same way,” he said. “But all kids can reach the same level.”

Another thing that makes this school unique is the inclusion of art as one of the mainstays of the school.

Art with math and science? Absolutely, Hayes said.

“Art adds richness. It’s a rounding experience. Engineering makes more sense when you add the design element,” he said.

Plans for the second year at STEAM include increasing time spent on art, and partnering with Morehead State for college level classes.

There are no requirements for admission to STEAM. Students are chosen by lottery. Applications will be accepted Aug. 15-Oct. 7 for students who will be freshman in the 2015-16 school year.


Instead of ESL, Cardinal Valley Adopts Bilingual, Bicultural Program

When Matthew Spottswood took on the job of Principal at Cardinal Valley Elementary last year, he quickly realized that leading a school where 75% of his kindergartners don’t speak English would be a challenge.

“For the first two years, it’s almost impossible for these children to learn,” Spottswood said.

This school year things will be different. Two of the five kindergarten classes will be bilingual, so that for their first year of school kids in these classrooms will be taught in Spanish for 90% of the day and in English just 10%.

As these students progress into first grade the percentage of instruction time in English will increase each year. Spottwoods expects that by the end of fifth grade, all of these students will not only be bilingual, but biliterate.

“We will be taking kids from disadvantaged to advantaged,” he said.

Cardinal Valley is uniquely suited for this type of classroom as there are nine native Spanish-speaking teachers among the faculty.

“These teachers understand the culture as well as the language,” Spottswood said.

His hope is that many of students will continue their bilingual education after elementary school by attending the Spanish immersion programs at Bryan Station Middle and

High schools resulting in graduates who are bilingual, biliterate and bicultural.