Kingsport Times-News: Vertical alignment: Sullivan school system launches K-12 Connection
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Vertical alignment: Sullivan school system launches K-12 Connection

Rick Wagner • Mar 15, 2019 at 2:30 PM

BLOUNTVILLE — For Indian Springs Elementary School third-grader Jacklyn McCampbell, the first-ever Sullivan County Schools K-12 Connection included getting her fingerprints made by Sullivan Central High School criminal justice students.

And for Innovation Academy of Northeast Tennessee sixth-grader Emilee O’Leary of Colonial Heights, it included doing some typing on an old-school manual typewriter and getting some free candy from the creative writing program at Central as her grandfather, Steve Cradic, observed and recalled he used to type on just such a machine.

With an almost full parking lot, school officials estimated more than 1,000 children, parents, grandparents and others attended the Thursday evening event at Central that showcases career technical offerings, academic programs and postsecondary opportunities including the military. The Central event will be followed by similar ones March 19 at North High, March 21 at South and April 9 at East.

SO WHAT IS VERTICAL ALIGNMENT?

The K-12 Connection Events target students that attend the feeder schools to the high schools, said Aaron Flanary, career technical education (CTE) and early postsecondary opportunities facilitator. This vertical alignment structure educates students and parents about all of the opportunities the high schools offer. In addition, Flanary said the event builds teacher and leader capacity around college and career alternatives for students. That allows partnerships with families to be forged and begin the dialogue for each child’s career path at an earlier age. 

Creating individual and specific pathways for students instills hope and direction for students and parents. College admissions representatives and ACT building-level counselors will be educating parents about the importance of the ACT. The armed forces folks educated students and parents about the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) and all the career options that are available when students achieve the targeted military readiness score as measured by the Armed Forces Qualifying Test (AFQT).

WHAT IS COLLEGE AND CAREER FOCUS?

At the events, Flanary said, elementary, middle and high school students learn about various career choices and pathways.The events focus on increasing awareness of career choices through exposure to career-technical programs that are offered at the high schools, along with military recruiters focusing on “jobs” that utilize technical skills in non-combat roles. In addition, representatives from the Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Elizabethton, Northeast State Community College and King University told students about academic majors and degree choices.

“We kind of cover all these gamuts,” Flanary said.

He noted the events give students and families a chance to learn about Advanced Placement, dual enrollment, honors and CTE programs, including work-based learning off campus. “As we merge (into two high schools from four), everything we see here will still be intact.”

In preparation for West Ridge, planned to open in the fall of 2021 absorbing all of North, South and most if not all of the Central zones, Flanary said CTE courses will be shifted a bit. For instance, North will get a welding program from Central and cosmetology from South, while South will get a coding program from North, while a robotics program is moving from North to East.

All told, West Ridge is planned to have about 30 CTE programs, including six that will still be based at the current Central CTE portion of the school.

 

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