After trip down memory lane, Pollio touts Academies of Louisvill - WDRB 41 Louisville News

After trip down memory lane, Pollio touts Academies of Louisville program at Shawnee

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Acting Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent Marty Pollio went back to his roots at the Academy @ Shawnee on Feb. 13, 2018. Acting Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent Marty Pollio went back to his roots at the Academy @ Shawnee on Feb. 13, 2018.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Acting Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent Marty Pollio went back to his roots at the Academy @ Shawnee on Tuesday, the first day of school since Pollio was offered the full-time position.

Pollio had a warm welcome back to the school where he started as a teacher and basketball coach in 1997 – cheering students lined a hallway at one point, some waving signs congratulating him on his new role as head of JCPS – and visited a couple of classrooms, including the one he taught in, as students started their day.

“Twenty-one years seems like a long time ago, but it flew by,” Pollio said, noting that computers were scarce when he started at Shawnee and now students there use Chromebooks in their classes. “It seems like just yesterday I was teaching and coaching here.”

“I had no idea that I would be doing this,” he said of his ascent to JCPS superintendent. “At that time, all I wanted to do was teach and coach basketball and loved doing it.”

The low-performing priority school is one of 11 JCPS high schools in the district’s Academies of Louisville program, with three others set to join, and Pollio took the controls of a simulated flight program while stopping in one of Shawnee’s Aviation, Interactive Media Arts and Manufacturing Academy classes.

Expanding JCPS’ academy program is just one objective for Pollio as he transitions to his new role as superintendent, pending contract negotiations with the Jefferson County Board of Education. He's been acting superintendent since July 2.

The program, part of a partnership between JCPS and area employers that launched this school year, mixes career-oriented classes with core content courses like math and English in hopes of developing skills and interest in certain fields.

“Clearly it’s a wall-to-wall model where every kid is a part of a pathway and an experience, so we have just started the process working with KentuckianaWorks of getting business partners in every academy, but I think we have a goal to be in the 80s of business partners officially signed on by the first day of school next year,” Pollio said.

He said Shawnee’s academy program – which partners with UPS, one of 13 businesses currently teaming with district high school academies – is “the biggest change” since he started at the high school in 1997.

“You heard the flight instructor talk about, ‘You probably saw this in your algebra class,’ so those kids then going and having career pathways, field trips, job shadows, apprenticeships. That’s changed a lot,” Pollio said. “Across this district and across the nation, that was not something that you would see in high schools, so I think that’s a great development.”

The next JCPS superintendent might also become part of a different business partnership. Pollio has an offer to join a group of local business and community leaders called the Steering Committee for Action on Louisville’s Agenda, which has been critical of JCPS and its performance in getting students prepared for life after school.

SCALA co-founder David Jones Sr. extended the invitation on Monday, and Pollio would be the only JCPS representative on the 69-member panel that commissioned a $50,000 report on governance at the district and potential state intervention, a possible outcome of an ongoing audit by the Kentucky Department of Education.

Pollio said he’s still mulling whether to join the group, noting his belief that partnerships between JCPS and community leaders are critical to student success.

“Definitely we want to partner with our businesses and our community partners to improve our schools, but this is something I’ve really got to look into to make sure that we have everybody that needs to be at the table and that the mission and vision of the group really aligns with JCPS,” he said.

Reach reporter Kevin Wheatley at 502-585-0838 and kwheatley@wdrb.com. Follow him on Twitter @KevinWheatleyKY.

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