Chattanooga, TN (August 13, 2019) – Upon returning from summer break, second year students of the EPB Institute of Technology and Networking at Tyner Academy High School discovered their old classroom had been completely refurbished and equipped as a high-tech learning laboratory. This transformation resulted from the continuing partnership between Hamilton County Schools and EPB which also engaged a number of other local businesses in the effort. The project marks the beginning of the second year EPB has been working with students and educators at Tyner as part of Hamilton County School’s Future Ready Institute program.
“The goal of the Future Ready Institutes is to prepare students for well-paid, in-demand jobs so they can succeed in the workplace while driving growth for our local economy,” said Dr. Bryan Johnson, Hamilton County Schools Superintendent. “The Future Ready Institutes, through partnerships with community leaders such as EPB, provide opportunities in our schools today, leading to exciting career opportunities that benefit our graduates, their families, and our community as a whole.”
The new learning laboratory includes a glass-walled area with computer server racks for project-based learning, a smartboard that can show information on large-screen displays throughout the classroom, an area where students can use their Chromebooks for computer-work like coding and more. Every element is designed to support students as they work to join Chattanooga’s next generation of IT and networking professionals with the help of Hamilton County educators and EPB Technology experts. These efforts utilize the State of Tennessee’s Computer Science curriculum and project-based learning modeled on real-world business situations developed and facilitated with support from EPB.
According to Christopher Hampton, a Tyner student participating in the program, he is planning for his future in a whole new way. “A year ago, I wasn’t thinking beyond high school,” he said. “Being a part of the Future Ready Academy and working with EPB has me thinking about going to college and working in the IT field.”
“Engaging directly with students through Future Ready allows us to support them while also building up the pool of rising technology professionals EPB and other local companies need to serve our customers and the community,” said David Wade, EPB President and CEO. “It’s humbling to work with these students because they’re so engaged, and they learn so quickly. Every time I interact with them, they make me more and more optimistic about the future.”
According to Wade, the Future Ready model allows EPB to focus its efforts for greatest impact while providing an inclusive learning opportunity. “Students from across Hamilton County can apply to attend the EPB Institute of Technology and the other Future Ready programs,” Wade said. “We need a well-prepared workforce that reflects the richness and breadth of our entire community.”
Wade also named and thanked the 14 local companies that joined EPB in providing in-kind and other support to establish the new learning lab including Allied Electrical, CDW, Concrete Surfaces LLC, FiCom Group, Hellermann Tyton, Klein Tools, Mayer Electric Supply, Quest Technology International, Resource 1 Tier 3 Data Security, Service Electric, Shields Electronics Supply Inc., Southeast Ceilings, Southeast Painters, Vanco International Inc.
“Together with these companies, we’ve renovated the learning area from floor to ceiling and from fixtures to furniture,” Wade said.
The EPB Institute of Technology at Tyner is a small learning community within Tyner Academy High School. EPB technology experts work with educators to develop project-based learning experiences that relate what students learn in class to real-world careers. Students also visit EPB worksites and have the opportunity to participate in summer workplace experiences. In addition, the EPB Institute of Technology offers opportunities for dual credit and dual enrollment as well as preparation for technical certifications to give students a head-start in completing post-secondary educational requirements. The program started last school year with a group of 9th grade students. Now that the original group is in the 10th grade, they have been joined by a new cohort of freshmen in a process that will continue each year until the EPB Institute includes 9th-12th graders.
Hamilton County School’s Future Ready Institutes bring the knowledge and experience of community businesses and industry representatives into high school classrooms. The EPB Institute of Technology is one of six branded institutes. Career-themes for other institutes include medicine, robotics, forensic science, engineering, hospitality, technology, business, marketing, and more. Teachers of all content areas, including English, math, science, and social studies work closely with the career-theme teacher to provide classroom instruction through the lens of a career. The goal is for students to clearly understand why a lesson is important and how they will use the information in the future.
Six new Future Ready Institutes will open in Hamilton County Schools with the start of the new school year. There will be a total of 27 Future Ready Institutes providing more options for students with varied interests, hopes, and dreams. Future Ready Institutes found immediate success with one-third of last year’s freshman class enrolled in a Future Ready Institute. The Future Ready Institutes were so successful in the first year the Urban League of Greater Chattanooga recognized the program with the Community Impact Award.