KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — More options are now available to help Knox County students prepare for life after graduation.
The first set of schools participating in the 865 Academies initiative unveiled their academy options on Thursday. The initiative aims to prepare KCS graduates for success through “career-themed academies” which offer work-based learning, job shadowing opportunities and guidance from professionals in the field they wish to pursue according to Knox County Schools.
Superintendent Dr. Jon Rysewyk said the whole of the initiative is to give students the skills need to enter the workforce. The academy options were chosen based on the workforce needs of the community and the strengths of their students.
“When Knox County students receive their diploma, we want to make sure they are prepared to enroll in college, enlist in service to their country, or find employment in a high-wage, in-demand profession,” said Rysewyk. “The 865 Academies initiative will provide students with in-depth exposure to a field that matches their aptitudes and interests, while also supporting the future workforce needs of our community.”
Eight high schools are a part of the initiative at this time: Austin-East, Bearden, Central, Farragut, Fulton, Hardin Valley, Karns and L&N STEM. Each school offers a different set of academies to its students from the Academy of Communications to The Academy of Entrepreneurship and Professional Services.
“The 865 Academies provide every student in Knox County the opportunity to be successful in college, career and life which is at the core of Knox Education Foundation’s vision,” said KEF CEO Mike Taylor. “KEF is excited to continue our collaboration with Knox County Schools as the high school experience is reimagined to achieve excellent outcomes for all students.”
“I hope this really gives the opportunity to be intentional and to really think about what they want to do in life and sometimes we wait too long for that, but giving them that exposure in middle school and then giving the opportunity to choose a pathway that they might like to take in high school I think really gives them a leg up when they leave,” said Dr. Andrew Brown, principal of Central High School.
Since August, 9th-graders at each school have been a part of the Freshman Academy to prepare them to select a pathway for grades 10-12. This academy is meant to help students transition into high school, identify possible career paths, and gain knowledge about academic opportunities beyond high school.
“As a student, this is an amazing opportunity. We got to develop what we know and develop those acquired skills to be able to know what we want to do as we go into college and as we go into jobs and internships,” said Zoie Woodruff, head ambassador for the freshman academy.
“As we work to transition Knoxville’s economy in preparation for the next industrial revolution, The 865 Academies will play a pivotal role in building Knoxville’s next-generation talent pipeline. By looking ahead, we can arm students with the skills needed for the future, giving them a competitive advantage in Knoxville’s labor market,” said Mike Odom, president and CEO of the Knoxville Chamber. “We look forward to continuing our partnership with KCS to address the workforce needs of tomorrow.”
In 2023, two more Knox County high schools will launch Freshman Academy, and four more schools in 2024. To learn more, visit knoxschools.org/academies.