LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Academies of Louisville provides industry-specific learning options for high school students in Jefferson County Public Schools. Now, the district is offering a similar type of instruction for middle school students.
At Thomas Jefferson Middle School, the Explore program is in its infancy. In Nadia Wise’s classroom, students in the business / communications pathway pull popsicle sticks to get assigned to tables of three students.
Upon sitting down, they find out these desk mates are about to become their roommates. Well, theoretically, that is.
8th graders Jannee Furman, Kaden Kopp and Kiara Moore take a look at the model of their new home. There are three bedrooms and only one master. They need to decide who will get the largest room. After they begin discussions, Ms. Wise reminds them to first look at their roommate profile.
They all have a piece of paper describing their occupation, how much they make, any debt they have and any big purchases they are trying to buy in the nearby future. That information makes the decisions a bit more challenging.
“Finances can be really hard, but between the three of us, we can work through it,” said Furman.
Wise has enjoyed coming up with creative lessons for the new pathway here, and seeing how much the students get involved.
“We played a simulation game yesterday, and some kids were getting upset because they got fired,” said Wise. “Just hearing them having these real-world conversations as middle schoolers is a lot of fun.”
Furman wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up, which is quite different from the business and communications fields she is learning about now. Despite that difference, she thinks these skills will help her with all kinds of things after graduation.
“This really could help us throughout the future,” said Furman.
Executive Administrator for Middle School Explore Tara Greenwell knows most middle school students don’t know what they want to do when they grow up yet.
“The idea here is not to help a kid find a career in middle school. The idea here is to get them excited about their learning,” said Greenwell.
They are just a few weeks into this new program at Thomas Jefferson Middle School, but teachers are already noticing a difference in student engagement.
“I can be a little antsy, like I want to do something with my hands, so this helps me,” said Furman.
Administrators aim to connect the career and technical education for middle schools to the high school Academies of Louisville programs to create a seven-year path for students.