Nashville, TN – This month, the department is celebrating Innovative School Models and National Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month to highlight how Tennessee is reimagining the classroom for middle and high school students, while also amplifying the role CTE has in preparing students for postsecondary success.
“I am proud to celebrate and highlight the emphasis Tennessee has put on access to career-ready-curriculum and work-based learning opportunities for students,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “Through our Innovative School Models initiative and the historic investment of $500 million by Governor Lee and the Tennessee General Assembly, the possibilities are endless to ensure our students are given the time, space, and resources to be equipped for success after high school.”
Building upon the state’s strong commitment to ensure Tennessee is future workforce ready, Governor Bill Lee and the Tennessee General Assembly made a historic investment of $500 million to bring Innovative School Models to every public high school and middle school in the state. By expanding Tennessee’s Innovative School Models aimed at building readiness and preparing students for success after high school, more students will have opportunities to participate in innovative local programs aligned with Tennessee’s highest-demand skills and careers. For more information about the exemplary Innovative School Model districts across the state, click here.
Currently, the department has approved nearly 40 applications from school districts for the $500 million Innovative School Models grant. The application deadline for the grant has been extended for districts until March 31st, 2023. Supporting resources may be found here, including FAQs and a guidance document.
“The missing link that the ISM grant provided was the resources to overcome all types of individual barriers to success for students, as well as an enhanced learning environment,” said Deidre Pendley, CTE Director, Bristol City Schools. “The Work-Based Learning program stresses the importance of learning and applying essential skills and is enhanced greatly by a host of community partnerships. We are so proud of our Bristol students and the successes they are experiencing through the support of the ISM grant!”
“Preparing for the workforce and postsecondary education through Innovative School Models funding opens many doors for our students seeking to develop skills and early postsecondary opportunities,” said Dr. Leslie Eldridge, CTE Director, Cumberland County Schools. “The Innovative School Models grant gives us as educators the flexibility to provide these opportunities to all students at a much younger age! We look forward to experiencing the impact of the ISM for years to come, not only in our educational system, but also in our workforce!”
“The ISM grant has allowed Washington County Schools to reimagine the way we think about high school transition,” said Crystal Fink, CTE Director, Washington County Schools. “Grant funding has allowed a more intentional focus on early grade career exploration. This awareness will allow for easier high school transition and opportunity for career readiness in the students’ chosen programs of study.”
As part of national CTE month, the department is spotlighting the value of career and technical courses available to students around the state. Tennessee students can take courses and lead Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs) in 16 nationally recognized career clusters, with the ultimate goal of preparing students for success at the postsecondary level and in their chosen careers. Learn more about those career clusters here.
In May 2021, the department awarded 21 school district Innovative High School Model grants, which included an initial investment of $30 million to foster local community partnerships that boost student readiness. These partnerships have already shown an incredible impact on students’ experiences and readiness for the workforce and postsecondary opportunities.
For additional information about Tennessee’s Innovative School Models initiative, click here. For more information about Tennessee’s CTE work, click here.