Almost $1 million from Ohio's Straight A Grant Fund will back a new program that will bring industry into Dublin City School District classrooms.
The School District's Manager of STEM Initiatives Kimberly Clavin will lead planning through the upcoming school year before the K to Industry program will begin for the 2015-16 school year.
The new program that will work to put industry into the classroom to stoke students' interest and prepare them for college came about after Clavin learned that nearly two-thirds of college students change their majors.
"An average college student changes their major three times over the course of their college career," she said.
"More time in college means more money spent. By providing kids with as much career experience as possible we streamline their education.
"Another motivation was K to Industry merges student interest, staff and parent feedback and workforce need to create a pathway of career exploration, engagement and immersion."
The K to Industry program has four components:
• An online platform for virtual mentoring and career exploration.
• Education and industry professional development online that will help teachers learn about industry and "industry professionals to learn about education, for example how to find content standards," Clavin said.
• Teacher externships that will allow teachers to work with industry professionals over the summer to develop classroom experiences.
• And an Information Technology pathway for students.
"When students hit 10th or 11th grade they can choose a career-based academy for immersion," Clavin said.
"Students can exit high school with a certificate that makes them employable."
The IT pathway program will likely be located at Scioto High School thanks to a partnership with Tolles Career and Technical Center, which will teach the classes.
"There would be multiple exits from this pathway to go straight from high school to a career with specialized training," Tolles Superintendent Kim Wilson said.
"They will have employment skills to put them in the workplace with high-paying jobs," she said.
"They can also leave with college credits already in place for IT to go onto two years or four years (of education) and beyond."
Wilson is hoping that Tolles participation in the K to Industry program will help students save money at college and become more engaged in their high school experience.
"We don't do a good job as to why they're taking academics or why they have these state standards," Wilson said.
"We want to not just prepare them for college, but move into a career. We want to help them identify careers, their strengths and interests and make a connection.
"I think we'll see fewer students going into college and using it as their career exploration ... .
"We want to get things in the right order and help them identify their innate passions and abilities. We want to give them a head start."
State funding will cover the cost of the launch of the program, which is expected to be sustainable for the next five years.
Much of the funding will be spent on equipment which will be located at Dublin Scioto High School, but open to all students in the district, Clavin said.
"It will be a districtwide offering and be located at Scioto unless we find an industry or academic facility willing to house it that will be a more rich immersion experience," she said.
Putting the new K to Industry program together will begin soon and Clavin said the community can find out more at an open house planned for October.