By KEITH RYAN CARTWRIGHT
Rutherford County Schools
Rutherford County Schools has been named a recipient of a new state-funded Innovative High School Grant that will result in additional opportunities for students.
Valued at more than $1 million, the grant will reimagine the use of time, space, partnerships and modes of learning for student success. The grant calls for three facilitator positions including career coaches at Riverdale and LaVergne high schools and a work-based learning facilitator serving high schools district wide.
The grant period started May 21 and will run through Sept. 30, 2023.
“The state is looking at supporting districts that are trying to find ways to support high school students (outside of core classroom work),” said Dr. Jimmy Sullivan, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction. “They’re looking for new ways to support districts, to help kids in the 21st century.”
Although career and technical education programs at Riverdale and LaVergne are outperforming other districts on a state-level, Sullivan said the two schools were identified for the new positions in an effort to bring them up to the high-achieving levels expected by RCS.
“They’re still very much above the norm,” Sullivan said.
“They need more support,” said Director of Schools Bill Spurlock, who added, “Our CTE is very robust.”
Each of the high schools throughout the district “has something that connects either with CTE or helps them stand out,” according to Sullivan, who pointed out the mechatronics program at Oakland High and the Cambridge program as Smyrna High as two examples.
Riverdale doesn’t currently have something that is their own,” Sullivan explained, “so this will help us start down that journey of thinking about different ways to give those schools something that is supported by Rutherford County Schools, but unique to them.”
The role of the career coach facilitator could change as the district evolves.
Sullivan envisions the position being held by “somebody who has that partnership between what is going on in your CTE courses, has that relationship with the Chamber of Commerce and then can kind of be that liaison between what are ways that we can help our students be successful on skills and jobs that may be out there right now that otherwise a traditional school counselor may not be aware of.”