Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

April 9, 2014

Lawrence to share in $5M grant for STEM

Mike James
The Independent

LOUISA — Lawrence County High School will share in a $5 million grant to establish career-track programs emphasizing science and mathematics, according to the Kentucky Educational Development Corp.

The grant is part of the federal Youth Career Connect program, an initiative to better prepare students for careers in the STEM disciplines — science, technology, engineering and math. Lawrence County is one of 10 Kentucky high schools selected, according to KEDC representative Clabe Slone.

Students in the program will be eligible to earn college credits for their work, and get real-world experience through internships, Slone said.

The program builds on an Obama administration push to form partnerships between schools and employers, the ultimate goal to equip students for careers in a high-tech economy, according to a White House statement.

Funding will cover the cost of a teacher and a career counselor at each school, Slone said. Each school will decide on the area of emphasis of the program; one might choose engineering and another might choose biomedical science, he said.

It is too early to tell what Lawrence County will do, but the school already has a strong engineering program so that would be a viable direction, Superintendent Mike Armstrong said.

Students will take field trips and do job shadowing for exposure to career opportunities, and area employers will provide internships and mentoring.

In Kentucky, partners include Kentucky One Health and Baptist Health, Morehead State University and the Kentucky Career and Technical College System, Tarter Industries, Highlands Diversified Service, Ashland Iron Works, New Horizons, WKYT-Television, Big A-Solutions (industrial fans), Link-Belt Cranes, and Project Lead the Way. Also agreeing to work with the YCC Program are the Directors of the Work Force Investment Areas (Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program, Lake Cumberland Area Development District, and the Bluegrass Workforce Investment Board.

Over the course of the four-year program more local employers will be encouraged to join in, Slone said.

KEDC hopes the program can continue after the initial four-year term, but it will have to be self-sufficient by then, Slone said.

KEDC is a cooperative of 67 Kentucky school districts that provides support services such as collective bidding and professional development.

MIKE JAMES can be reached at mjames@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2652.