The start of the 2019-20 school year brings two major changes to Akron Public Schools with the full launch of College and Career Academies and the opening of Ellet Community Learning Center.

The implementation of the academies marks a nearly decade-long process to make learning more relevant and career-oriented for students, particularly those who have long struggled academically.

This will be the first year that all high school students are required to choose a career pathway within the academies offered at their school. They can choose pathways in areas such as health care, finance and media.

In a process that began last year, freshmen will take a course that will help them explore different academies and future career options before they pick a track. As sophomores and juniors, they will take one elective each year in their chosen fields. As seniors, they will take two such electives.

In their regular academic classes, teachers will tailor content to the students' chosen career focuses, said Rachel Tecca, the district's director of College and Career Academies.

"Those academics don’t go away," Tecca said. "We’re just trying to enrich them by making them relevant."

North High was the pilot school for the program, now in its fourth year at that school.

The goal, Tecca said, is to give students transferable skills, not necessarily train them for a job as soon as they leave high school — although in some tracks, that is possible.

"We are not built on the premise that we are producing a certain career field," she said. "It’s really about making sure our students can go wherever they choose to go after high school with those transferable skills that make them marketable."

Each academy will have dedicated faculty and business partners, Tecca said. They will form a "small learning community" to "build a sense of belonging and a family atmosphere for students in that academy."

This year's other significant development is the opening of the new Ellet CLC. The opening marks another notch in the district's goal to replace dilapidated facilities across the city. The new building cost about $47 million and was constructed on the same property as the existing building.

The Cleveland Browns are also paying for the renovation of the school's football field, adding artificial turf.

The district has already replaced or remodeled more than 30 school buildings over the last 15 years. The last scheduled project, a new building for the merged Kenmore-Garfield High, has yet to break ground.

 

Contact reporter Jennifer Pignolet at jpignolet@thebeaconjournal.com, at 330-996-3216 or on Twitter @JenPignolet.