School district explores transportation options for Future Ready Institutes
Posted on 04/16/2019
Future Ready Institutes had an exceptional first year with strong student enrollment, increased business community participation, and student engagement in the new programs at 13 area high schools. The program was honored with the Community Impact Award by the Urban League of Greater Chattanooga and Blake Freeman, the director of Future Ready Institutes, won the School Leadership Award from the Public Education Foundation (PEF). One challenge the Future Ready Institutes encountered in the first year was transporting students to provide access to the innovative new high school programs. The school district is exploring transportation options to make the popular programs even more accessible to students.

The district is currently collecting information from upcoming eighth-grade students and their families to see if additional transportation options may make Future Ready Institutes an option for more of them in the fall. A short survey has been sent to current eighth-grade parents to determine if available transportation would make Future Ready Institutes a choice for more students and if it would broaden the Future Ready Institutes considered at different schools. Hamilton County Schools is considering options that would include community partners in plans for transportation. The Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA) is one of the community transportation providers talking with the school district about possible options for the fall. Link to the survey

“The survey information from families will help us to determine areas of need in transportation and allow us to work with our community partners to see if we can find a fit that will benefit the children of the community,” said Dr. Bryan Johnson, superintendent of Hamilton County Schools. “CARTA is a proven entity in public transportation in the area, and we hope to work with their leadership to find a way to utilize the resource for our students and families.”

“Imagining what our community will look like in the future through the Velocity 2040 report was the basis for much of the discussion regarding Future Ready Institutes and transportation,” said Blake Freeman. “Goal one in the report focused on excellence in education, and goal three on setting a transit standard of Chattanooga becoming one of the most mobile cities in American.”

Future Ready Institutes found immediate success in the first year of operation with one-third of this year’s freshman class enrolled in a Future Ready Institute. Five organizations joined the program as “branded partners” with Unum providing support for teacher professional development and externships. Bryan College, Erlanger, EPB, Blue Cross, and UTC added their name to five of the individual institutes and provided expertise and resources in business and marketing, healthcare and innovation, technology and networking, and teaching and learning.

Future Ready Institutes challenge the traditional approach to education in high schools by developing career-themed small learning communities. Themes include medicine, robotics, forensic science, engineering, hospitality, technology, business, marketing and more. Teachers of all content areas including English, math, science and social studies work closely with the career theme teacher to provide classroom instruction through the lens of a career. The goal is for students to clearly understand why a lesson is important and how they will use the information in the future.

Hamilton County Schools will have 27 Future Ready Institutes this fall available to students from across the district.