#RethinkSchool: Alaska Magnet School Provides Career Readiness in District the Size of Indiana

Paul Bartos knew about education in rural America after serving as a 7th grade biology teacher, assistant principal and a principal in Poplar and White Sulphur Springs, Montana.

However, Montana was not considered rural for a majority of the students in the Northwest Arctic Borough School District in Kotzebue, Alaska. “Kotz” as Alaskans call the town, is home to just over 3,200 residents and 2,000 students. Despite the small population, students are spread throughout an area the size of Indiana. It is here that Paul served as an assistant principal at Kotzebue High School and now serves as principal of Star of the Northwest Magnet School.

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#RethinkSchool: Struggling Student Discovers Path through Colorado Apprenticeship Program

Sierra didn’t always dream of working in the insurance business. In fact, until recently, she didn’t even know if she’d finish high school.

But with the help of a caring counselor, a local business and an innovative state effort, Sierra is now thriving in her new role as a full-time employee at Pinnacol Assurance.

Her journey from struggling student to working professional began when Sierra’s counselor approached her with a new opportunity through CareerWise, a Colorado nonprofit that helps businesses recruit talent through paid apprenticeships that begin in high school.

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#RethinkSchool: iLEAD Academy Students Take the Lead in Northern Kentucky

“Strangely, I’ve started a school, and I am not an educator,” said Alicia Sells, founder of iLEAD Academy, a STEM high school in northern Kentucky.

Sells’ background is in public policy. She noticed that neighboring Kentucky school districts of Gallatin, Carroll, Henry, Owen and Trimble did not offer a dedicated STEM program and, as a result, many students’ needs were not met in their preparation for the workplace.

iLEAD Academy is in session as students receive instruction, have discussions, and create in the maker spaces. (Photo credit: Alicia Sells)

Robert Stafford, superintendent of Owen County Schools, is the only current superintendent among the five districts who was present at the creation of iLEAD Academy. “When we initially got together – the five districts – we wanted to offer a really robust STEM program in engineering. It was driven by Alicia [Sells] pulling us all together to create the iLEAD Academy,” Stafford said.

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#RethinkSchool: Military Family Finds Homeschooling to be Just the Right Fit

When asked to share their thoughts on the benefits of school choice and their homeschool experience, this military family did what they do every day: they turned the occasion into a learning opportunity. Dan, his wife Jenna, and their six kids gathered at the dinner table to shape a response – as individual, independent thinkers and as a family.

In this interview, slightly edited for length and clarity, the family describes the transformative of impact school choice.

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#RethinkSchool: Challenging Journey Empowers Student to Dream Big

When it came time for Miami resident Lily Suquet and her son Ethan to determine which middle school Ethan would attend, they decided to shop around. After looking at five different schools,  they finally settled on Jose Marti Mast Academy in Hialeah, a magnet school with a STEM focus, where Ethan is now an 11th grader.

At his old school, Ethan regularly achieved straight A’s, but he knew that a more challenging learning environment would enhance his education and better prepare him for future success, so in choosing Jose Marti, he chose a school that would test his learning capacity.

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#RethinkSchool: Back to School Tour Observes Innovation Across the Nation

Throughout the months of September and October, the U.S. Department of Education hosted its Rethink School Tour. This year’s tour consisted of 16 Department of Education officials visiting 46 states, 2 territories and the District of Columbia. Department of Education officials met with over 47 national, state and local elected and appointed officials while visiting close to 90 schools and programs throughout the country.

During the tour, Department officials had the opportunity to observe interesting approaches to K-12 and higher education, meet with and hear from students, teachers, parents and administrators and celebrate the many ways rethinking education benefits students everywhere.

Here is what we saw on the 2018 Rethink School Tour.

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#RethinkSchool: New Approaches That Are Meeting the Needs of Students

During our annual Rethink School Tour, I had the pleasure of joining 16 other Department of Education officials in highlighting a number of interesting approaches to education. The tour covered 46 states, 2 territories and the District of Columbia.

I kicked off my Rethink Tour at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Georgia where I learned about the university’s innovative student programs. I was able to interact with developing entrepreneurs who will be future business leaders. Georgia Tech has questioned everything about their current model and is now expanding their online and remote learning opportunities so students with varying needs can pursue a great education.  Additionally, I had the chance to see the new MyStudentAid mobile app in action as students enrolled and completed their FASFA form on their phones.

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#RethinkSchool: Rethinking Education in the Wake of Devastation

For me, and for many, the Back-to-School season evokes nostalgia.  It is not unusual for adults and children alike to remember their first days of school as students.  As a former school teacher and principal, I recall the Back-to-School season as the most exciting time of year!  I am pleased that in my role as the Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, the season continues to be full of the hope and promise of the opportunities that lie ahead.

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#RethinkSchool: Minding the Gap

As the former Superintendent of Education for South Carolina, I worked to transform the information provided and options offered to students and parents. The goal was that each student would leave high school confident about what comes afterwards. While a four-year college degree is the path of choice for many students, many would prefer pursuing vocational experiences and learning marketable skills. Each student is unique and their interests and talents vary accordingly. As educators, we need to embrace these differences and help our students select the path that is best aligned with their skills and aspirations. For some, that is a traditional four year degree, for others, an associate’s degree, or an industry credential.

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#RethinkSchool: Excelling in the Classroom, Leading the Charge to Stop Bullying

Students at Ronald Wilson Reagan College Preparatory High School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, were anxiously waiting for Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education Frank Brogan to arrive when he walked through the doors on Tuesday, Sept. 11, as part of his Rethink School back-to-school tour. Brogan and other U.S. Department of Education leaders traveled to more than 40 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands to highlight the Trump Administration’s key education initiatives.

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#RethinkSchool: From Language Skills to STEM to Industrial Training, Preparing AAPI Students for the Next Step

I remember the excitement of going back to school after the long, hot summers in Texas where I grew up. Preparing for the first day back to school meant getting the book bag ready with new school supplies, selecting an outfit and thinking about all the familiar and new faces I would be seeing. That was a generation ago. Although the students going back to school now prepare in a similar way, they (and their parents and guardians) have a whole host of other things on their minds – school safety, being selected in special programs, college readiness and how to prepare for the workforce needs of the future.

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#RethinkSchool: Highlighting STEM Research and Education Programs in DE and MD

During the Back to School tour, Diane Auer Jones visited colleges in Delaware and Maryland to celebrate successful institutions and meet with students as the new academic year begins. As the principal Deputy Under Secretary, Delegated to Perform the Duties of Under Secretary and Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education, Auer Jones visited colleges with high performing STEM programs and STEM-based career and technical education programs.

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