As Factories Fade, Rural District Builds Makerspace to Fill Talent Gaps

I met Trevor (name has been changed) when he was a high school senior in 2014. From a coal mining family in western Kentucky, he’d just suffered a major family crisis and his mother was struggling with mental illness. Understandably, his grades were beginning to suffer and he was missing class regularly. At the time, I was the homeless education program manager for Paducah Independent School District in Paducah, Kentucky. Trevor’s teacher pulled me aside, concerned and frustrated. She filled me in on the particulars. He was struggling scholastically, experiencing a difficult situation at home, and was at risk of …

The Maker Space Field Trip

As part of our journey to design and build a maker space that meets the unique talent and needs of our community, we hit the road to explore. We saw Nashville’s Fort Houston which consists of welders, glassblowers, carpenters, potters and now a small business factory (the welders hooked up with the wood workers!). In Louisville, next to University of Louisville was First Build. This space serves as a micro manufacturer for GE. It is free to enter and create. With a short ten minute trip across the Ohio bridge, we entered into Jeffersonville, Indiana and saw the infamous Maker …

The How

[Editor’s Note: This post follows on a series that began here ] So, how do we go from “clueless” to “clued in”? Unfortunately, thirty years after my less than circuitous journey to my career destination, I still hear the same thing from students in my community (and probably yours too). There are essentially four jobs: teacher, nurse, doctor, and lawyer. This though we are on the cusp of a complete sea change in terms of jobs and our economy. Could it be, at least in part, because teachers, or those we task on the front lines of helping direct education …

Clueless

Clueless… …it’s how I felt in high school. And I’ll bet you did too. The swirling hormones, roller coaster mood swings, excitement, friends-related drama. The frequent inability to focus. And somewhere, in the background, the constant pressure of looming tests and homework deadlines. Science tells us  the brain doesn’t fully mature until age 25. And yet, it is at this unformed age that we are called on to make education decisions that will, in many cases, chart a course for the rest of our lives. How did you go about that? How does anyone go about that? Here’s how it …

Moving Forward to Grow Talent in Technology

Here’s the latest on our K-Career Technology Pipeline. This past October, we even took it up another notch and put everyone in the room together to hash out our local talent development issues in emerging industries. By everyone, I mean the Kentucky Department of Education was talking to industry leaders, secondary and higher education professionals and leaders, and economic development leaders. It was an exhausting all day event, but we made headway. We learned that: we must get those closest to our students (teachers, coaches, guidance counselors, family advocates) to become the most informed about the new realities of work and industry. …

The Work Ready Project

They asked for “out of the box,” and so we delivered. After working for over 18 months on this concept from user experiences to analogous research in and out of state, to many, many, many industry conversations, I present our Work ready concept as the Paducah Regional Innovation Hub. The executive summary sums it up nicely or you can just watch the slide presentation below it. The University of Kentucky Paducah Campus, the Paducah Public Schools, WKCTC, Murray State University, Paducah Economic Development, Computer Services, Inc., the city of Paducah, and an additional and growing number of public/private regional partners …

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No Jumping

No Jumping

Jumping is good for the soul.