Kent State and Akron Public Schools Become Partners for New College and Career Academies at Firestone Community Learning Center
Three new college and career academies at Akron’s Firestone Community Learning Center will bear the name of Kent State University, as part of a new partnership announced Feb. 21 between the university and Akron Public Schools.
Kent State is the latest in a growing number of area businesses and organizations that have joined hands with Akron Public Schools for its new College and Career Academies for Akron high schools.
The Kent State University Academy of Design, the Kent State University Academy of Performing Arts and the Kent State University Academy of Advanced Technology and Comprehensive Engineering will open at Firestone for the 2018-19 school year.
Kent State President Beverly J. Warren said that when Akron Public Schools explained the focus of the three academies planned for Firestone, she was thrilled because the areas aligned so well with the programs and expertise of the university.
“This is truly a perfect pairing,” President Warren said. “I know it will be a fruitful partnership, not only because of what we can provide Firestone students, but also for what our students, faculty and staff will gain from collaborating with this state-of-the-art learning center.”
Melody Tankersley, Ph.D., senior associate provost and dean of graduate studies at Kent State, explained that the partnership might take many forms. Kent State will provide internships for Akron students and offer experiential learning opportunities for Akron students and teachers, and Akron will provide Kent State students and faculty the opportunity to learn from them and their partners, she said.
“We will assist one another in developing problem-based learning experiences that will transform our respective educational programs,” Dr. Tankersley said. “This is a true partnership in every sense of the word.”
President Warren said she was particularly excited about the partnership because of her long-held belief that education must begin at the cradle.
“The earlier we show students all that higher education has to offer, the more we empower them with a desire for a college education and successful career,” she said.
Last May, Akron Public Schools was designated a Ford Next Generation Learning Community, joining a national network supported by the Ford Motor Company Fund, the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company, which is transforming public high schools into career-themed academies to better prepare students for college and professional success in today’s competitive global economy.
Districts in the Ford Next Generation Learning Community network have experienced increased student achievement and engagement. School systems in the network develop robust ties with employers, which, in turn, help to generate a stronger talent-development pipeline for high-demand jobs and overall community prosperity.
Akron Public Schools Superintendent David James expressed his gratefulness to Kent State for its willingness to be part of the College and Career Academies of Akron.
“This is an ambitious project that will strengthen our schools, families and the very future of our students for generations to come,” Mr. James said. “We are incredibly grateful to Kent State University for being one of our first partners to come forward and say, `We want to help.’”
President Warren stressed that the partnership helps the university realize one of its core values of community engagement while serving as an innovation engine to enhance the quality of life for all in Northeast Ohio.
One of the first events to come from this partnership will take place this spring when 320 incoming Firestone freshmen will visit Kent State to explore firsthand the disciplines the university offers that align with the new academies: visual art, visual design, architecture, fashion, product design, theatre, film, dance, vocal, band, orchestra, aerospace, digital science and mechatronics.