Grand Opening of the Laurel County Schools Center for Innovation - Principal interviewed

London, Ky.- On July 31, the Laurel County School District celebrated a significant and historic day with the grand opening and ribbon cutting to officially open the "doors of opportunity" for students of the Center for Innovation (CFI).

CFI Principal Dr. James M. DavisThe "CFI will operate as a comprehensive career and technical education center and will offer several multi-dimensional programs of study such as Allied Health Sciences, Biomedical Sciences, Engineering Technology, and Industrial Maintenance Technology" said, Dr. James M. Davis, Principal of the CFI.  "Students from South Laurel and North Laurel high schools will be eligible to participate in a three year program of study beginning in tenth grade."

The facility is a state of the art 76,000 sq. ft. which utilizes various “smart and green” features such as photovoltaic panels on the roof that can generate up to 30% of the electricity used by the facility or it practically powers the all LED lighting system throughout the building and grounds. The classrooms have louvers on the exterior windows that harvest naturally occurring light and channel it toward to front of the classroom through the use of sloped ceilings which contain light sensors to adjust the LED lighting based upon how much natural light enters the room to maintain the same candle power in the classroom at all times with no bright and shadow effects. Every student at every desk has a complete computer system enabled to access information technology and internet resources as well as having preloaded software related to the program of study.

"The CFI has established significant postsecondary education partnerships with various colleges and universities throughout the region such as Eastern KY University, Southeast KY Community & Technical College, Union College, Hazard Community & Technical College, and University of the Cumberlands. These partnerships have led to a number of articulation agreements that provide the opportunity for CFI students to earn college credits while in high school that can be applied to their degree programs at the respective colleges," noted Dr. Davis. "Not only do students have the opportunity to earn college credits before graduating high school, but they will also become eligible to sit for a number of workforce readiness credential exams with various state and national boards. Students who complete the Allied Health Science program will become eligible to sit for Medicaid Nurse Aide license (CNA) in Kentucky as others in the program can become qualified to sit for national board certification as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Students who complete the Industrial Maintenance Technology (IMT) program can qualify to sit for two national certifications as an Electrical Technician and Instrumentation Technician, Levels 1, respectively. Students in the Engineering Technology program can sit for Computer Assisted Drafting certifications. Students in the Biomedical Science programs may become qualified to earn credentials as a Pharmacy Technician and/or EKG Technician."

When asked how the Center for Innovation is different from other schools Davis remarked that the CFI exists as a “school of opportunity”. "The CFI is different from other schools by design and with intentional purpose," said Davis. “Our instructional model has fully integrated academic and technical education and each program of study is comprised of three faculty members who are highly qualified experts in the areas English, Math, and Technical content”, added Davis. The programs will deliver formal academic content in English and Math, but at every opportunity they will make career connections with the Technical. For example, students in Allied Health Science may be working on dosage calculations, and with strategic communication and utilizing the collaborative model, the Math faculty member can reinforce metrics in their classroom as well as the English faculty member can reinforce the importance of patient records and accurate written and verbal communication with others regarding patient information."

Davis responded to the inquiry about the “what is the impact of this facility” for the community which a clear and unambiguous statement that "the CFI is a “game changer”. We will prepare students for college and careers and in so doing will improve the local workforce not only in the short term but will increase the economic vitality for the entire region."

Laurel County Judge Executive, David Westerfield, remarked at the grand opening that a California based company has made mention of the CFI and may be interested in bringing jobs to the area given the communities focus on creating a highly skilled and educated workforce.

The Center for Innovation will open for students on August 6 with approximately 260 students, 10 faculty, and 5 staff. For more information about the CFI you can view the school's web page at http://www.laurel.k12.ky.us/19/home.

Known to many in the local community as an instructor at EKU in the Psychology Department and statewide by many in the professional education community, Dr. James M. Davis is a native of Clay County, Kentucky.

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