Batesville, IN — Two separate grants awarded to Batesville High School (BHS) this summer through the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) will provide both immediate and long-term benefits to local students through career readiness programs and transformational strategic planning, according to BHS principal Andy Allen.
Implementation of the Employability Skills Innovation and Implementation (ESII) grant will begin at BHS this September. Students will engage in a series of professional development sessions, hosted by high school teachers and identified industry members. Focusing on helping the students develop durable skills that will make them desirable career applicants, a detailed program has been crafted through curriculum partners Indigo Education and Skillsline Essentials that is tailored to Indiana Employability Skills.
“The vision for a BHS graduate is to become the most desirable applicant through opportunities, experiences, processes, and outcomes,” Allen explained, “and we seek out programs that help our students achieve that goal. Last year, we embarked on a pilot program with a focus group using a combination of Indigo’s DISC (Dominance, Influencing, Steadiness, Compliance) assessment, which is a comprehensive look into each person’s natural behavioral style, and Skillsline Essentials, which teaches durable skills such as time management, conflict resolution, and creativity. Using a small group of student leaders, a special education classroom, and a cohort of volunteers from among our BHS staff, we saw measurable benefits. Students felt they were more self-aware and therefore could navigate difficult situations with more confidence, and teachers developed a greater capacity for supporting students. The ESII grant award will enable us to offer this beneficial programming to every student throughout our school for the next two years.”
Freshmen will participate in onboarding sessions to immerse them in the BHS experience. Professional development sessions will be led by teachers and will focus on school-specific software knowledge and Student Resource Time (SRT) opportunities, as well as foundational academic prerequisites, such as proficiency in Microsoft Excel, delivering presentations, and meeting professional writing standards.
Sophomores and juniors will participate in self-discovery of skills, strengths, behavioral traits, communication preferences, and motivators using the Indigo DISC assessment. In addition,
these two grade levels will be working this academic year on three of the competencies offered by Skillsline: higher order thinking, self-agency, and collaboration.
“Since juniors are eligible for off-campus learning opportunities, their utilization of these two programs will be different than what the sophomores will experience,” Allen said. “Sophomores
will be using what they are learning to help guide them in class choices and future mentorship/co-op placements ideas, but the juniors will be actively putting them into practice as they engage with our community’s employers through their 2022-23 work-based learning assignments.”
The Class of 2023 (seniors) will be using RISE programming, which focuses on educating, equipping, and empowering the youth of our community to lead from where they are. Led by Gary Munchel and other community representatives, the curriculum is anchored by three integral practices: the power of choice, the boldness of character, and the gift of compassion. Munchel and his team will help the seniors to see themselves in a more positive light, leaving them better enabled to be responsible, independent thinkers, problem solvers, and community-conscious leaders.
“This project taps into what Batesville does well,” Allen said. “It involves community leaders and teachers, including our Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) representative, to bring additional value to our students’ academic experience by teaching them beneficial personal skills that also align with the Indiana Employability Skills standards. These are programs we can continue to use with students for years to come.”
The 3E (Explore, Engage, Experience) grant from IDOE was awarded to Batesville in partnership with the Central Indiana Education Service Center (CIESC) and six other school districts located throughout Indiana. The key component of the grant will be a collaboration with Ford Next Generation Learning (NGL), an organization that assists school corporations with strategic planning to develop a community-connected model for students.
According to the Ford NGL website, “First and foremost, students are at the center of everything we do. At the heart of our approach is a fundamental shift in mindset about what it means to prepare young people for college, careers, and life.”
“Through the 3E grant, the Batesville Community School Corporation (BCSC) will receive a dedicated team from Ford NGL to guide us through this multi-year strategic planning process,”
Allen explained. “Our first step will be to build a committee of stakeholders from the school, community, and businesses. Over the next eighteen months, we will work with Ford NGL to develop a long-term vision to change and improve the way we educate our students.
“Using a community-driven approach, we will look at all aspects of our system to determine what makes the most sense here in Batesville. The goal is to reenvision how high school students spend their time. What makes the most sense, given the make-up of our community, the needs of employers, and the goals of our particular students? How could we improve our curriculum or school-day structure so it is a seamless transition for students to employment, enrollment, or enlistment in the military? Ford NGL will help us achieve this through their proven processes.”
Using the Ford NGL framework, Batesville will develop ways to meet IDOE goals, such as increasing the number of students earning a high-value credential before graduation. Specifically, Batesville High School has set a strategic goal that 80% of the Class of 2025 will graduate with a tangible outcome, such as the Indiana College Core, an industry-recognized credential, or certification. The percentage of BHS students earning the College Core grows annually, and BHS has collaborated for many years with Ivy Tech and local employers to offer students work- or skills-based learning that leads to certification or practical skills acquisition. The strategic planning process with Ford NGL looks to enhance and expand those opportunities, taking a fresh look.
“Batesville’s manufacturing cooperative program and Ivy Tech certification program is considered the gold standard for blurring educational lines,” Allen stated. “However, we are always looking to improve. Through this deep dive into our town’s attributes, our school system’s processes, local employers’ needs, and our students’ goals—with a broad range of community partners actively involved—we hope to emerge with an innovative game plan to make a diploma at Batesville worth even more at graduation.”
The Ford NGL framework aims to transform the student experience, including teaching and learning methods, the culture, systems, and structures of schools, and the partnerships between the schools and community.
“This unique experience will give us access to a dedicated team to help us craft the new model for education at BHS,” Allen concluded. “The access our students currently have to work-based learning and other experiences that help inform their choices after graduation is amazing for a system our size. The Ford NGL process will include a cross-section of stakeholders to brainstorm new possibilities, opening the doors of opportunity and developing creative ways to make learning practical, meaningful, and applicable for every BHS student. We are fortunate to be selected to be a part of this.”
(Batesville Community School Corporation press release)