West Hills Elementary Visited By “Careers On Wheels”

West Hills Elementary Visited By “Careers On Wheels”

This week, West Hills Elementary had its first College and Career Week with a “Dress for the Job You Want” Day, guest speakers, and mobile professionals from across the county showing students their “Careers on Wheels!”

Visitors included the Knox County Sheriff’s Department with squad cars and motorcycles, KUB with a bucket truck, local radio station B97.5 with their mobile broadcast vehicle, EMTs with an ambulance, Knox County Animal Control with a kennel truck, the Knox County Fire Department with a firetruck, and two local food trucks

“It’s really awesome to see that it’s not all stationary. You don’t have to go into an office,” said West Hills Elementary teacher Melissa Brown. “All of these careers on wheels have been great and the community coming to our school has been amazing.”

Each class went from one career to another, listening and asking questions to the professional. Earlier in the day, these students were also exposed to 36 other careers with guest speakers. 

Nurses, dog trainers, government employees, and more spoke to each classroom about their chosen career field. 

“I think the kids have been able to make connections, and really experience and be exposed to some careers that they maybe hadn’t thought about or wouldn’t necessarily be exposed to,” Brown said. “It really has been fantastic, and I’ve loved the variety that has come through, too.”

The idea to begin familiarizing elementary students with various College and Career opportunities stemmed from the newly implemented 865 Academies, which reimagined the high school experience to better prepare students for post-graduation life by enrolling in college or trade school, enlisting in service to their country, or finding employment in a high-wage, high-skill, and in-demand profession with an entrepreneurial mindset.

Career-Themed Academies Revealed For First Cohort Of The 865 Academies

Career-Themed Academies Revealed For First Cohort Of The 865 Academies

Photo Credit: John Valentine

The first cohort of The 865 Academies revealed their new career-themed Academies at a celebration hosted by Central High School on Thursday.

The 865 Academies initiative launched in the fall of 2022, and is designed to transform the high school experience in Knox County. The goal is for every KCS graduate to be prepared for enrolling in postsecondary studies; enlisting in service to their country; or finding employment in a high-wage, high-skill, and in-demand profession, with an entrepreneurial mindset.

By establishing career-themed academies, the initiative will create small learning communities within larger schools, allowing students to participate in career exploration activities and take a deep dive into areas of interest while also building strong connections with teachers and other students.

“We’ve got to prepare students, and school systems are uniquely positioned to do that,” said Superintendent Dr. Jon Rysewyk. “Our job is to have students prepared for when they graduate.”

The celebration was attended by community leaders and industry partners, including Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs, who said 865Ready graduates will ultimately benefit Knox County and East Tennessee. 

“This is just wonderful to see a really intentional, strategic effort to in some ways customize the student experience,” Jacobs said. “They get the tools and the skills that they need to excel in areas that they’re either naturally drawn to or things that they love.”

Gordon Heins, the president and chairman of the A.G. Heins Company, said industry partnerships positively impact both organizations and students. By working together, KCS students are provided valuable opportunities for work-based learning and career exploration.

“As an employer, we want students to come to us looking for good-paying jobs, and that they’re prepared, and they have the tools,” he said.

Central High School is in the first cohort of The 865 Academies, and Principal Dr. Andrew Brown said student performance in Algebra I has improved, while discipline referrals are down.”

Brown credited Freshman Seminar, a new class that focuses on helping 9th-graders identify interests, aptitudes and professional skills, adding that “we are already beginning to see great results out of that work.

CHS senior Justus Hayes was involved in the early stages of launching the Academies initiative, and is also an entrepreneur. He started his own business, Blended Clothing, and during the ceremony presented shirts to several local leaders. 

“Entrepreneurship is a very important thing to me. I love creating, and bringing new apparel and things to our generation,” Hayes said. “It has been my honor to help build and show my support for something that will impact our current and future generations.”

Student Ambassadors from each school presented their new Academies alongside their principals. Below are the Academies for the first cohort.

Carter High School and South-Doyle High School will be joining The 865 Academies as the second cohort in the fall.

For more information on The 865 Academies, visit knoxschools.org/academies.