Independence Schools to transform into career academies for 2015-16 school year

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INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- The future isn't so far away. School district leaders in Independence are taking that approach to a new game plan -- and it's turning high schools into career academies.

High school classes should deliver knowledge that's useful in a student's future workplace. The Independence School District is in the process of transforming its three high schools into the Academies of ISD, which will offer students a head-start toward their chosen career paths.

School district leaders made public their partnership with the philanthropic arm of the Ford Motor Company after being named a Ford Next Generation learning community. Dr. Dale Herl says the Independence School District will tailor its curriculum to each student's chosen path.

"We wanted to make sure our students, whenever they graduate, have a leg up on their peers, not only throughout the metro and in the State of Missouri, but in the United States," Dr. Herl said.

This new plan will offer better opportunities to students who may choose a career that doesn't involve a four-year college diploma.

For instance, a dietary class at Truman High School might take a different focus for students planning a career in the food production industry. Plus, dietary students could streamline their class load toward more food-based courses.

Truman High sophomores Darrien Smith and Cooper Magels say this will offer pupils a smoother road toward the future.

"Instead of just having a basic science class, if I'm going to be a nurse, I'm going to take the bio-medical, so it's really narrowing everything down so that I'm getting the information that I need," Smith said.

"We'll have a better opportunity to get prepared for our career that we would want in the future," Magels said. "Like I said, it would prepare us more."

The Academies of ISD plan won't officially begin until the 2015-16 school year. However, one school system employee says portions of the new plan are already being used in the district's trio of high schools.

Independence Schools will be one of 18 local education systems sponsored by Ford.

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