Education News

TDOE Highlights Exemplary Innovative School Models in Tennessee


Districts Utilizing Initial Grant Funds to Reimagine
High School Experiences for Students
Nashville, TN – As part of Innovative School Models month, the Tennessee Department of Education is highlighting exemplar districts for their use of the initial $30 million grant funding awarded in 2021 for the Innovative School Models initiative.  

Throughout the month of July, the department is celebrating Innovative School Models month, which is the primary state initiative within the Student Readiness priority of the Best for All strategic plan. This initiative was designed to encourage partnerships between school districts, postsecondary education institutions and local employers to reimagine how to best prepare high school students for careers in their local communities.

“By fostering partnerships between schools and businesses, recipients of the Innovative School Models grant funding have demonstrated how they can connect education to the workforce by rethinking traditional school days,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “We commend these exemplar districts for their strategic work and buy-in to this program to elevate their students’ experiences in the classroom. This investment has and will continue to change the lives of students and communities in Tennessee.”

For more information about the Innovative School Model exemplar districts across the state, click here.

Building upon the state’s strong commitment to ensure Tennessee is future workforce ready, Governor Bill Lee and the Tennessee General Assembly made an historic investment of $500 million to bring Innovative School Models to every public high school and middle school in the state. By expanding Tennessee’s Innovative School Models aimed at building readiness and preparing students for success after high school, more students will have opportunities to participate in participate in innovative local programs aligned to Tennessee’s highest-demand skills and careers.

In May 2021, the department awarded 21 school districts Innovative High School Model grants, which included an initial investment of $30 million to foster local community partnerships that boost student readiness. These partnerships have already shown an incredible impact on students’ experiences and readiness for the workforce and postsecondary opportunities.

Bradley County Schools developed the PIE Innovation Center, an over 240,000 square foot building with more than 30 partners that provides wrap around services for students, such as work-based learning, postsecondary opportunities, industry certifications and pre-apprenticeships. The resources in this center have and will continue to allow students to align their coursework to career pathways during the school day.

“The impact the ISM grant has already had on our district is immeasurable,” said Dr. Linda Cash, Director of Schools, Bradley County Schools. “We have been able to reimagine learning through collaborative partnerships with our local community college and TCAT to develop three new programs in Chemical Technology, MEP, and Medium/Heavy Truck Technology. In addition, we have been able to reimagine learning through the use of space at our PIE Innovation Center. The purchase of innovative, industry-aligned equipment will allow students the opportunity to obtain specialized training and increased opportunities for EPSOs. The ISM grant allowed us to break all barriers to provide equity and access for all students in Bradley County Schools.”

Macon County Schools established a Teaching as a Profession (TAP) program of study made available to all students from Macon and Jackson counties by utilizing state-of-the-art technology, time, and partnerships. This program gives students the opportunity to not only observe diverse classroom settings but also lead classrooms through planning, presenting, and assessing alongside their mentor teacher. These experiences will lead to the development of the next generation of teachers. 

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