By: Emmanuel Caulk
Fayette County Public Schools Superintendent
When children are little, adults often ask them, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
Once they hit high school, the question becomes, “When will you graduate?” or “Where do you want to go to college?”
And that’s a problem, because we should never take the focus off of the future. Graduating from high school and going to college are not the ultimate goals. Those are just steps in their journey.
We want our students to be future ready – equipped to excel in whatever field they pursue.
That’s why Fayette County Public Schools has changed its approach to high school education and established The Academies of Lexington.
Under the academy model, high schools are organized into smaller learning communities aligned to student interests, such as medicine and health sciences, information technology, professional services and leadership, engineering, manufacturing and robotics.
Students still take math, science, English and history, and earn all the credits – including IB, AP and dual-credit courses – they need to graduate, but content is delivered for real world application.
Academy students can discover what they are most passionate about and then tailor their high school experience to support the direction they choose.
In a community that ranks 12th in the nation in the percentage of adults with a bachelor’s degree, and sixth in the nation in the percentage of adults with an advanced degree, classifying students as either college-bound or career-track is the wrong paradigm.
Every student is on a career track. Medicine, law, education and engineering are all careers, as are advanced manufacturing and trades.
“Career” does not mean “less than.” The career path for some of our students will require college and graduate school. Others will require advanced technical training or apprenticeships.
The Academies of Lexington at Bryan Station, Frederick Douglass and Tates Creek high schools expose students to their choices, help them focus on their strengths and give them the experiences and foundation to succeed at the next level.
In November, FCPS was officially named a Ford Next Generation Learning Community, joining an international network of districts on the cutting edge of preparing students to compete in a global society.
This initiative has united Lexington behind the cause of transforming public education and bringing together students, families, educators, businesses, and community partners.
When we talk about delivering on the promise, we are talking about ensuring that each and every student reaches his or her unlimited potential.
Fayette County is aiming higher than high school completion. Because the true benchmark of success is not a high school diploma, but where that diploma takes our students in life.