Will Wells, who began his third year as superintendent of the Oldham County school district this fall, oversees more than 12,000 students in 16 schools along with a preschool, arts center and career-focused education center.
The career center is home to one of the district’s most exciting initiatives, the new OCS Engineering Academy, which launched in August. Nearly 75 students in 9th and 10th grades are engaged in a half-day STEM program using Project Lead The Way curriculum.
Students are transported daily from their home high school to the Arvin Education Center, where the district offers an engineering course paired with the student’s mathematics course. The district plans to expand course offerings in subsequent years, increase enrollment, and foster corporate partnerships that are making the program possible, including those with UPS and Dow Chemical.
In Oldham County, the district also recognizes the importance of early childhood education in preparing students for opportunities like the OCS Engineering Academy. One of the district board’s goals is to have every child reading proficiently by the end of 3rd grade. As part of that commitment, this year the district began Camp Literacy Live, an intensive reading intervention program. Four days a week for four weeks, a targeted group of 45 incoming 1st-grade students work with reading recovery-trained teachers and early primary teachers who provide literacy instruction. Then, the Kentucky Science Center provides educational activities designed to reinforce those literacy lessons.
The district also is expanding its Reading Academy, which is designed to improve student reading by building the capacity of teachers through extensive training and coaching focused on evidenced-based practices for teachers from preschool through grade eight.
The district also is proud of opportunities for student engagement during the summer: the Kentucky Science Center hosted camps at La Grange Elementary School; the district offered a federally funded summer meal program; and many schools opened their libraries for students to check out books. In addition, the district partnered with the Oldham Public Library to promote summer reading programs and other library events.
The district’s Gifted and Talented Educational Services department hosted a number of programs as well, including a robotics camp, Fit for Life (a summer P.E. class) and Summer Scholars (a mini-Governor’s Scholars-type program). Finally, the Oldham County Schools Arts Center offered camps to students of all ages, including ones focused on performing arts, visual arts, music and more.