Paducah is an exporter of talent, and that is not what we want to be. Many of our students go away to school, find jobs in Louisville, Lexington, or Nashville and never return. For many students it’s not because they wouldn’t like to come back. It’s that they can only find secure, good-paying jobs in the larger cities.
At Paducah Public Schools, we want to join community partners in turning that around. We have realized that our mission has not been fulfilled if we provide a quality education to our students but haven’t done our part to provide educational pathways that give them the opportunity to move into good jobs. We want to give the talented students who go through our schools the opportunity to pursue career paths that are a good fit with local businesses. We want to join community partners in creating an economic foundation that allows us to retain and even import talent. If we can achieve this goal, it helps everyone- our businesses, our schools, our churches, and our civic institutions.
Here’s what we’re doing to turn Paducah from being an exporter of talent to being an importer of talent.
- We have built a strategic plan that’s focused on aligning with local business and industry needs. Our first objective is that every student engage in meaningful and relevant learning that prepares them to pursue college and career aspirations. Another of the objectives of our plan is to have 100% of our students either college or career ready by 2020. Another is to expand our public/private partnerships. Specific strategies for expanding public/private partnerships include aligning our curriculum with workforce needs, partnering with WKCTC and MSU to expand offerings, and making Paducah Middle students “Tilghman Ready” by offering high school courses like Geometry, Spanish and French at the middle school.
- We are working with CSI to create a computer tech pathway for students who are interested in the fields of coding and computer technology. Mayor Kaler was on target in her response to John’s question when she said, “We have a lot of jobs that we can't fill here in Paducah, so it's very important to bring young people back here, especially in technology jobs.” Many of the available jobs at local companies like CSI, Kalleo, and KEE Force require a specialized knowledge base that is hard to find locally. We are working to build a kindergarten-to-career pathway to provide qualified local applicants for tech sector jobs.
- Our Health Occupations class in partnership with Baptist Health Paducah is a big step forward in providing real world education for real world jobs. Having our classes at the hospital gives our students the chance to see the healthcare culture and environment, which helps them make informed vocational choices.
- Paducah Barge is working with us to strengthen our career pathway for students who are interested in the marine industry. We are taking our first step by partnering with Paducah Barge, who is bringing a truckable barge to the PATC so welding students at the Paducah Area Technical center can practice on it.
These examples illustrate how crucial our business partners are in helping Paducah Public Schools achieve the goal of building a better Paducah. We’re constantly grateful for how this community has supported us financially through taxes. I’m asking you to raise the level of commitment to the future of this community by giving your talent and time. Here’s how you can help:
The state slogan for our commonwealth is true: United, we stand. Divided, we fall. Let’s all work together to build a better Paducah.