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PCS named Model Community by Ford Next Generation Learning

Pinellas County Schools has been named a Ford Next Generation Learning (Ford NGL) Model Community, a milestone designation for preparing high school students for success in college, career and life.

As a Ford NGL Model Community, Pinellas County Schools will offer educational visits and workshops to other districts on how to transform their high schools and better prepare students for college, career and life. The designation includes a $25,000 grant from Ford Motor Company Fund, Ford’s philanthropic arm, which manages the Ford NGL program.

Ford NGL is nationally recognized for its unique model of career-themed academies that provide the foundation for high school students to learn academics through the lens of a potential career such as engineering, health care, technology and marketing. Ford NGL communities connect academy students with professionals currently working in their chosen field, providing valuable insight into the day-to-day challenges and the skills required for success.

“Pinellas County has proven itself as a secondary career academy model of innovation, leadership and competence in fulfilling the promise of Ford NGL,” said Cheryl Carrier, executive director, Ford Next Generation Learning. “Pinellas County’s success in transforming the high school experience has helped dramatically improve educational outcomes such as graduation rates and college preparation.”

High school career academies are a proven national model in which students learn in an environment that makes their education more relevant and engaging. Pinellas County is the second region in the country to be named a Ford NGL Model Community, joining Nashville, Tennessee, which received its designation in 2014.

Data from Pinellas County Schools and Pinellas Education Foundation shows that career academy students represent all backgrounds and have higher graduation rates when compared to all students in district schools. Pinellas County Schools continues to aggressively expand the number of students in career academies with more than 19,000 students currently enrolled.

The school district is a leader in a collaborative community-driven approach to evaluating career academies, which are reviewed twice a year at the middle and high school level via standards used by the Career Academy Board. Additionally, Clearwater High School is recognized as a Model School by the International Center for Leadership in Education for its wall–to-wall academy school.

“Looking ahead, we are eager to boost academy participation by establishing more feeder programs in middle schools and elementary schools. It’s never too early to build the skills students need for advanced academic work and successful careers,” said Michael A. Grego, Ed.D., superintendent, Pinellas County Schools.

Ford NGL is transforming education for increased high school graduation, improved academic achievement, better preparation for college and career, and increased earning potential. Ford NGL is designed to mobilize educators, employers, and community leaders to prepare a new generation of young people who will graduate from high school prepared to compete successfully in the 21st century economy.
By Staff