In his second year as superintendent, Nick Brake has introduced a new motto celebrating Owensboro Public Schools’ history, while taking the district into a new model of education. Tradition, innovation and excellence are the words that best describe the new era of Owensboro Public Schools.
With innovation in mind, the Owensboro Public School (OPS) District has launched several initiatives. Perhaps one of the most popular is the Owensboro Reads Initiative. The goal is to improve literacy in the community starting with the “Read 30 Minutes a Day Challenge.” As part of the program, the district introduced summer reading camps to help prevent the summer slide, which results when children who do not typically read during the summer months lose ground between the end of one school year and the start of the next.
The OPS district believes that it must educate the whole child to ensure that each student graduates from high school college- and career-ready. The district was recently named a District of Innovation, opening the door to start the state’s first new tech school. Owensboro Early College Academy, a partnership with Owensboro Community and Technical College (OCTC), also launched this fall and allows Owensboro High School students to graduate with both a high school diploma and an associate degree at little or no cost to the student. Additionally, an alternative program, Gateway Academy, recently expanded to offer students the opportunity to take more career-oriented courses to better prepare for successful entry into postsecondary programs. Aerospace and electrical engineering are among new courses available to OPS high school students.
Project-based learning is an important element throughout the district. Two OPS schools recently received Dart grants to purchase 3-D printers for engineering classes. One of the schools is an elementary school, making it one of the first in the state to use a 3-D printer. STEM classes are available at the middle and high school levels.
The district’s 1:1 laptop program thrives at OPS. Recognizing the technological world we live in, all students in grades 5 through 12 receive a MacBook Air to assist them in their education. Four years into this initiative, the curriculum involving the MacBooks continues to evolve and improve.