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Owen County Schools get Durr Foundation grant to create Virtual Computer Science Career Academy

A $150,000 grant over three years from the R. C. Durr Foundation will create a Virtual Computer Science Career Academy spanning from 7th grade through postsecondary education in the Owen County Schools.

Owen County High School

Dr. Robert Stafford, superintendent of the school system, said the funding will:
• Introduce students in seventh and eighth grade classes to Computer Science through virtual enrichment courses. The seventh grade course would be an introduction to computer science and the eighth grade course would be an introduction to Artificial Intelligence.

• Provide high school students with three choices to pursue a Computer Science career pathway – virtually in our district high schools, in-person at iLEAD, or at the Carroll County ATC. Students in the high schools could earn 12 hours of college credit that form the foundation of six Computer Science Associate Degrees at JCTC and are transferrable to multiple Computer Science degrees at Northern Kentucky University. Students at iLEAD could complete one of the six Computer Science Associate Degrees and enter the IT workforce or complete one of two Associate to Bachelor’s Degree programs to complete a Bachelor’s of Computer Science at Northern Kentucky University. Students at the CCATC could earn college credits aligned to the six Computer Science Associate Degrees.

• Enable students to earn at least four work certifications that will make them highly competitive in the workplace.
Supt. Stafford was also please that the system’s iLEAD program has been accepted as a chapter in the INTERalliance of Greater Cincinnati. The INTERalliance is a non-profit organization created by Fortune 500 companies in the Greater Cincinnati region to develop and diversify the Information Technology (IT) talent pipeline. This connection to employers can open the doors to a new world opportunities for students in our rural communities, he said.

iLEAD’s membership in the INTERalliance will give students in the Computer Science pathways access to an IT Careers Camp, the annual Tech Olympics, paid internships with leading tech employers, industry speakers and job shadowing opportunities, and Project TRIAD, special traing for high-demand certifications.

iLEAD will join 50 other high schools as INTERalliance chapter members. Only two are in Kentucky (Covington Catholic and Ryles High School). iLEAD Computer Science Teacher Eric Gray will be the INTERalliance advisor and will engage students in the Computer Science pathway at iLEAD, in the iLEAD virtual pathway at district high schools, and in the Computer Science pathway at the CCATC. Eric has been approved by JCTC to teach the four dual credit computer science classes that form the backbone of this plan.

In a 2020 study conducted by LinkedIn, employers identified the Top 10 Hard Skills competitive job applicants must have:
1 Blockchain
2 Cloud Computing
3 Analytical Reasoning
4 Artificial Intelligence
5 UX Design
6 Business Analysis
7 Affiliate Marketing
8 Sales
9 Scientific Computing
10 Video Production.

The Owen County program will help prepare students for high-paying jobs in technology industries.

In Kentucky, 67% of all new STEM jobs will be in Computer Science. There are 2,861 Computer Science jobs currently open in Kentucky, but only 581 students graduated from Kentucky colleges and universities in 2019 with required degrees. The Kentucky Center for Statistics (KYSTATS) Future Skills Report indicates the average salary for a computing occupation in Kentucky is $72,489, which is significantly higher than the average salary in the state of $42,410.

The grant from the Durr Foundation will enable Owen County Schools to create a program giving students fundamental knowledge that will carry them through high school and postsecondary education into the highest demand, highest paying jobs in the world.

Owen County Schools

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