Superintendent's Blog: Innovation Hub Part - Connecting to the Goal of Student Learning
In this blog post and the next I want to give you a little background so you’ll see how the Innovation Hub lines up with our district vision, mission, and values and the focus area of student learning. (I am including our vision, mission, values and focus areas at the end so you can refer to them.)
In Part Three I want to show how the Innovation Hub aligns with the focus area of Engaging Paducah.
In Part Four I want to talk about what the “makerspace” is, specifically, and explain the “what”, “why” and “how” of the Innovation Hub.
Before we decided to take on a project like this we wanted to count the cost. We knew that building a new Innovation Hub would not only require a lot of time, money, and effort- we also knew that it would be a a game changer in the way we educate students. So we wanted to ensure that the concept of an Innovation Hub was in line with the district’s vision, mission, and values. Beyond that, we wanted to make sure that it was what’s best for our students, and what’s best for our community.
Our vision is to know each and every student by name and need. Our mission is to inspire all students to achieve excellence, explore opportunities, and realize their full potential with the goal of preparing every student to be college and career ready upon graduation. We achieve our vision and mission through relationships.
As we developed our strategic plan in 2015 and 2016, we settled on five areas of focus. I want to spend a little extra time here, because we haven’t talked about the focus areas of our plan as much, but they are the compass that guides the ship, so they are very important to our thinking about the Innovation Hub.
Our first focus area is Student Learning. Our first student learning goal is to have 100% of our students graduate from Tilghman college and career ready by 2020. We are well on our way to that thanks to the hard work that is going on in our elementaries, our middle school, and our high school. The Innovation Hub will help us achieve this goal because it will provide the environment and the resources needed to facilitate the connections between courses of study in industrial maintenance, art and design.
As it’s designed right now, our career pathways are stand alone courses of study, with little overlap between the pathways.
For example, right now if you’re interested in Auto Body Tech/Collision Repair, you take classes at the PATC in painting and refinishing, which leads to an ASE certification in Collision Repair.
But what if your interest is in fiberglass design and sculpture? What if you want to make something like this and become an artist living in Lowertown?
Then the question becomes, “how do we take these disciplines and intertwine them with the goal of being able to find a job that you can do in Paducah with the knowledge and skills you have?”
If that’s the goal, then the process needs to change from one stand alone auto tech pathway to multiple ways to grow through an auto tech pathway. It becomes not just taking auto body tech and welding and art classes separately because those things interest you but finding ways to make connections in those disciplines so you can create your own pathway to the vocation you want to pursue. So the Innovation Hub gives us that space where the disciplines can overlap and those connections can be made.
I want to quickly point out an essential component of the Innovation Hub- Art and Design. Art and Design are the fundamental disciplines that connect all these pathways together. It is the “oxygen” in the Innovation Hub atmosphere that makes everything else work. When you start looking at industrial maintenance, whether it’s auto body, auto tech, carpentry, or welding, there’s an essence of art and design in that.
If you look at IT and what you can do in multimedia- you have to be a visual thinker to see patterns and spot trends. Art lends itself to that.
When you go into engineering and design technology, art and design are a big piece of that. Even in Logistics and Health Science I see connections to Art and Design. In my thinking, Art and Design are ligaments that bind all of these disciplines together.
So as the Innovation Hub allows us to customize educational pathways for students, they become more committed to their education. As they become more committed to their educational path, their odds of success improve, and we move closer to our target of having 100% of our students college and career ready.
In Part Two I’ll talk about how the Innovation Hub will help us reach our other two Student Learning goals, and how the Innovation Hub aligns with the focus area of Engaging Paducah.