School leaders prepare for Future Ready Institutes launch [photos]

Howard educator Henry Oston tours a Life Force helicopter at Erlanger Hospital on Wednesday, June 13, 2018, in Chattanooga, Tenn. Teachers from Howard and other schools which will launch Future Ready Institutes in the fall spent the week participating in externships at business partners across the region.


Brainerd High School› Institute of First Responders and Forensic Science› Institute of AviationCentral High School (newly added)› Institute of Advanced Manufacturing and MechatronicsEast Hamilton High School› TIE Institute: Tinker, Innovate, Engineer› CLIMB Institute: The Canes Leadership Institute of Marketing and BusinessEast Ridge High School› Institute of Building and DesignHixson High School› Institute for Integrative Agriculture, Food, Natural Resources and Technology› Institute for Health Careers and Medical Advancement› Institute for Future Business Leaders and Owners (newly added)The Howard School› Erlanger Institute for Health care and Innovation› Institute of Hospitality and TourismLookout Valley High School (newly added)› Institute of Digital Media ProductionOoltewah High School› Institute of International Baccalaureate Studies› Institute of Architecture and Engineering Design (newly added)Red Bank High School› Institute of Computer Sciences and EngineeringSequoyah High School› Institute of Industrial Manufacturing› Institute of Digital Arts, Design, and ProductionTyner Academy› Institute of Technology and Security› Institute of Teaching and LearningSignal Mountain High School› Institute of International Baccalaureate StudiesSoddy Daisy High School› Institute of Tech Start-Ups and Web Design

Teachers, school officials and business leaders are gearing up for the launch of Hamilton County Schools' new Future Ready Institutes this fall.

This week, teams from 13 Hamilton County public schools are visiting local business partners, some of which are official sponsors of an institute, to learn more about the opportunities available for teachers and students.

Teachers and staff from the Howard School joined Blake Freeman, director of the Future Ready Institutes at Erlanger's main campus, Wednesday for tours of various departments and to meet with clinical education staff.

"This is a partnership that allows Erlanger to inform our instruction and give us real-world projects that the teachers can use in the classroom and provides pathways for students," Freeman said.

The institutes, officially announced in March, are the result of community stakeholders like Chattanooga 2.0, local businesses and the school system coming together to tackle workforce development issues and a shortage of prepared graduates. The 21 institutes will exist as small learning communities within the district's traditional high schools.

The Erlanger Institute for Healthcare and Innovation, one of the Howard School's two institutes, is the only officially branded institute, but school teams from other institutes also are participating in onsite training at TVA, Unum, the Public Education Foundation, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Chattanooga State Community College, the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport, Komatsu, and others through Thursday.

"This is a great initiative for us at Erlanger," said Don Mueller, chief executive officer for Erlanger's Children's Hospital. "I'm excited that we will have a new employment pipeline coming from Howard."

The five participants from Howard - interim executive principal Le Andrea Ware, Zena Buckley and teachers James Talley, Lakesha Thompson and Henry Oston - were treated to a tour of Erlanger's campus with stops at the Heart and Lung Institute, the Life Force helipads, the neonatal intensive care unit and more. At each stop, representatives like Joscelyn Sroczynski, assistant vice president of the Heart and Lung Institute, and Stacey Prater, clinical educator for Life Force, briefed the educators on the work done there and on the opportunities for students within their departments.

One of the most important aspects of the institutes is the push to offer a variety of pathways for students. The district hopes to offer credentialing opportunities as well as prepare students for education after high school. Positions such as EKG technicians at Erlanger don't require education after high school to begin, but rather an employee would learn on the job while working.

"In many of our departments, we have a lot of programs that start all the way from ones like yours with high school students through opportunities like nurse externships working here," said Mueller, while the group visited the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit and saw some of the smallest patients the hospital treats.

Jill Steelman, the clinical education administrator at Erlanger, is tasked with hiring a partnership coordinator who will be an Erlanger employee and manage the relationship between the hospital and Howard. She said the goal of the partnership was set up all types of opportunities for students including class visits, job shadowing, internships and volunteer opportunities.

"Part of our purpose is to expose children to all varieties of opportunities," she said.

Zena Buckley said these opportunities were some of what she was most excited about. Buckley joined Howard's Future Ready team this year after working as a school counselor. She is one of three Future Ready coordinators, or coaches, located at the Howard School, Brainerd High School and Tyner Academy who will help establish the institutes in their first year.

"One of my passions is preparing students for the future," Buckley said. "It is one of my favorite things, when I can see them progress from elementary through post-secondary."

Earlier this week, staff from each Future Ready Institute gathered at Unum for two days of meeting and training. Michael Weiss, Unum's innovation champion, issued a design challenge to teachers, and teachers learned strategies for how to incorporate real world-inspired projects into the curriculum.

Unum is one of the district's partners in the initiative, donating the space and time for the team to host the Future Ready Summer Institutes.

One of the district's star teachers, National Council for Social Studies outstanding teacher of the year, Erin Glenn, is also a new Future Ready coach - she will begin her first year at Tyner this fall.

"Future Ready is a great way to bridge the gap, so we aren't working in silos in education and industry," Glenn said.

Of the week's externships, which Glenn will spend at EPB and UTC, she said she was excited to learn how teachers could prepare students for skills and jobs in these environments.

"It will provide authenticity to their learning. It's not just teaching a standard or to a test, they can see it's usefulness in the real world," she said.

Teachers will continue their externship experiences Thursday and return to Unum on Friday to wrap up the week's learning.

The district also announced it had received another $75,000 from the Perkins Reserve Consolidated Grant toward the launch of the institutes this fall.

Tennessee's education Commissioner Candice McQueen announced the grants this week, and Hamilton County was one of 88 school districts to receive funding from the total $2.2 million available.

This was the first year school districts could submit one application for possible funding from the state's Perkins Reserve Grant, the Tennessee Department of Education's New Skills for Youth grant, and the Experienced Professionals in the Classroom project, all of which are aimed at targeting ways to increase career pathways for students.

"It is essential that graduates of Hamilton County Schools are future-ready and prepared to succeed in college or a career," said Bryan Johnson, superintendent of Hamilton County Schools, in a statement. "The re-imagining of the middle school experience and Future Ready Institutes will personalize student learning by providing a rich academic experience and the flexibility for young learners to identify the interests they are passionate about in their life."

Contact staff writer Meghan Mangrum at or 423-757- 6592. Follow her on Twitter @memangrum.