Akron Public Schools has been awarded a $500,000 grant to help prepare its middle schools, as the district rolls out its College & Career Academies.
The Martha Holden Jennings Foundation grant will enable the district to begin mapping a plan that transforms the way middle school students learn and interact with the community, said Assistant Superintendent Ellen McWilliams.
“We know that we want the middle school years to be more focused around service learning, so that our students are going out and having community based experiences where they can practice all these problem solving and professional skills but do it in a way that they’re giving back to the community,“ she said.
Akron has been working to establish academies at its high schools since 2016 and so far has 15 academies with more than 50 career paths.
Under the academies model of education, students learn in small communities and gain real-world, career experience through partnerships the schools form with businesses, nonprofits and community entities.
A program was also recently established to prepare younger students for their futures.
The GAR Foundation awarded $1.2 million for “Essential Experiences.” The program will allow about 8,000 preschool through 5th grade students to learn in the field at the Akron Art Museum, Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Akron Zoo, ArtSparks, Hale Farm & Village and Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens.
Akron students begin exploring specific careers when they enter the Freshman Academy. They start on their chosen career pathway as sophomores.
By next spring, all Akron high schools will be academies and students will have 57 career pathways to choose from.