Every Student, Every Day, A Success! What does this mean?

Academies of Grand Island Senior High celebrate beginning of community partnerships

Kurt McCallum, a physical therapist and partner at Grand Island Physical Therapy, said when he heard of the Academies of Grand Island Senior High partnerships, he thought it was a great idea.

“It excited me for the fact that we could have some positive influence on some of the kids who would possibly go into the medical field,” McCallum said.

Partnerships play an important role in the Grand Island Public Schools strategic plan. The Academies of Grand Island Senior High, like the district, highly value partnerships to help students succeed.

Academy partner celebration.

The Academy Partnership Kick-off Celebration at the Bosselman Corporate Offices on Sept. 5 was a milestone in the process the district and partners are excited about.

Dr. Grover, superintendent of GIPS, said the evening was historic, as it illustrated the power in partnerships.

“This evening marks a commitment to providing students with experiences that will prepare them to be college, career, community and world ready,” Dr. Grover said. “We need our partners to share their expertise, their facilities and staff to help us meet the demands for our students to be prepared for their future. Through these partnerships, our students will leave high school with more than a diploma. They will gain real-world experiences guided by our partners who have first hand knowledge of the world of work.”

Jeff Gilbertson, principal at GISH, said the Academy partners are part of the diverse Grand Island community and have valuable skills and resources to offer for student success.

“Each and every one of you have the professional expertise to support our students with relevant career, college and life readiness skills and experiences that are authentic to not only today’s job market, but most importantly, the job market of the future,” Gilbertson said to the partners in attendance.

Partnership opportunities will vary, depending on Academy needs and students’ individual interests and desires.

More than 140 people attended the event, ready to build a partnership with the Academies.
Attendees received a grand entrance, with a red carpet and the GISH cheerleaders. People were able to mingle with one another while learning more about each of the six academies and their pathways.

Partners were also able to hear from Academy principals, teachers and counselors, as well as administrators who helped build the Academy system to understand the importance of partnerships.

Nicki Stoltenberg, Academy partnership liaison, said many people have already gotten involved in student success through many levels of Academy partnerships. She said the attendance at the kick-off event also speaks volumes to the commitment from business, industry and community partners.

“We have people who have already made a time and talent commitment to serve on the Academy Advisory Boards,” Stoltenberg said. “We have registered dietitians and nutritionists who are going to serve as judges for a biomolecule science unit in our classrooms. We are rallying professionals to tell their stories to our freshman to showcase our 19 pathways. And, we have GIPS school board members that are also getting engaged within the Academies as well.”

“We have a spot for everyone and are grateful for all,” Stoltenberg said.

McCallum said he’s looking forward to the partnership. He said Grand Island Physical Therapy wants to give students a variety of exposure to the physical therapy world, whether that be through job shadows or other avenues. McCallum said that could be giving students the opportunity to learn about inpatient and outpatient settings and everything from geriatrics to pediatrics.

“Not everyone is fit for the same area, because everyone has different interests and different ideas of what they want to do,” McCallum said. “We just want to give them a complete exposure of everything we can offer.”

McCallum said they also want to help prepare students for college and knowing what education is needed.

Jennifer Worthington, chief strategic partnerships and stakeholder engagement officer at GIPS, said partnerships are an integral part of the district.

“‘Partner’ is one of four pillars of the district strategic plan because we know for our children to be successful, we must work together as a community to support students,” Worthington said.

Gilbertson pointed out how partners impact the work that GIPS staff does. He said the goals include: improving the quality of relevant educational experiences, improving overall achievement and graduation rates and building relationships between students and positive adult role models. Another goal of the Academy partnerships is to support positive outcomes after high school.

“We desire that 100 percent of our students have a plan after high school,” Gilbertson said. “A plan they can execute, and a plan they can be passionate about and proud of as they transition into life.”

Dr. Josh McDowell, chief transformation officer at GIPS, said the academies aren’t possible without commitment from business and industry.

“The time and talents our partner investments will not only have a direct impact on the lives of our students but will certainly take our community as a whole to heights never before imagined,” McDowell said. “Partners help us teach was is relevant in the real world. Their feedback guides the curriculum and guides the experiences our students have while in high school.”

Worthington emphasized the importance of the partnerships in the past, present and future.

“The community of Grand Island partnered with the district to make Career Pathways Institute a success for students. The district has business partners for most of our schools and partners who support many district projects,” Worthington said. “The kick-off today shows us that partners are once again willing to come forward, this time to support all the academies.”

Worthington said the Academy partnerships benefit everyone involved.

“I am so excited for our students and partners to learn how much this relationship will benefit each other and the entire community,” Worthington said.

Dr. Grover said the partnerships will expand learning beyond the classroom walls and help students beyond graduation. She said the number of partners in attendance at the event speaks to their commitment and how they will be instrumental in ensuring a viable future for Grand Island and beyond.

“Wherever our students land, they will be prepared to make positive contributions to society and thrive in an ever changing world,” Dr. Grover said.