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Paducah Public Schools News Article

Innovation Hub will benefit area workforce

"A maker space is the intersection of lots of things," Bilak said. "It's creativity. You can be super-creative in there. The space doesn't tell you what you have to do at all, but it has tools. You can do handwork. You can do computer work. You can do machine work.

"We knew we needed a new facility. All our equipment was out of date. We knew we needed something to give it energy. We also knew we had to really revamp the coursework in there."

PISD Superintendent Donald Shively said the maker space allows younger students the chance to explore and see how they can apply their knowledge and talents in the workforce. At the same time, it allows older students a means of applying what they have learned to actually build or design something.

"We've got a student that's building a motorized skateboard, and a student that's building a supercomputer," he said of students working at Sprocket.

Bilak said taking a different look at the coursework led to ways of tying instruction with real-world application.

"We started redefining all these little pathways for (students) so they could have this relevant experience in the classroom but also with industry," she said.

"We have kids who are helping build a barge right now for Paducah Barge, and they'll do that every semester in our welding class. We have kids who go to Baptist Health for their health occupations class. When we did that, it tripled the amount of kids who wanted to be in health occupations."

Bilak said the Innovation Hub will be a place for students to find a fit in the working world.

"It's where they can go to say, 'Where do I get my energy? Where are my talents? Where are my passions? Where can I get skills?'" she said. "We want to help kids change that picture: You don't go to high school just so you can go to more school. You go because you're planning your life. High school is a great place to figure out some options for that path."

Shively said that graduates must have the skills that meet employers' needs to be valuable in the job market.

"There are 792 careers across the United States that the U.S. Department of Labor has been keeping its database on since the early '80s, and they ask employers, 'What are the skills or competencies you are looking for in employees?'" he said.

Shively said the top five skill needs of the workforce are problem solving, fluid intelligence or the ability to see patterns and trends, applying knowledge to an unseen situation, teamwork and communication. Learning those skills will not only help local graduates find jobs but bolster local business.

"We exist as a school district to educate the youth to build a better community," he said. "It's exciting work; it's lots of work. It's what's best not only for our students but best for our community."

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800 Caldwell St. Paducah, KY 42003 | Phone: (270) 444-5600 | Fax: (270) 444-5607
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