SUPERINTENDENT’S CORNER: What the ROI means to Brown County Schools

By LAURA HAMMACK, guest columnist

Brown County Schools recently received some pretty incredible news. After the submission of a comprehensive grant application and a second-round interview process, Brown County Schools was named a Ready School from the Regional Opportunities Initiative Inc.

This distinction will provide $150,000 in funding to Brown County Schools to support a yearlong development process. Grantees will engage district, community and industry stakeholders to better align educational programming with the workforce opportunities across the southwest- central Indiana region.

The mission of Regional Opportunity Initiatives Inc. is to support economic and community prosperity in the 11 counties of southwest-central Indiana (Brown, Crawford, Daviess, Dubois, Greene, Lawrence, Martin, Monroe, Orange, Owen and Washington counties).

From our friends at ROI, “The grant will fund a district readiness coordinator in each school district who will guide a local Education and Workforce Advisory Team through a yearlong design thinking process. The goal is to develop systemic solutions to local and regional education and workforce challenges. A series of workshops and experiences will be offered throughout the planning process to provide exploratory learning in the areas of career pathways, innovative K-12 approaches, curriculum and models. Upon completion of the four phases, participants will have the opportunity to submit an implementation plan for additional funding.”

Receiving this grant is a game-changer for our schools, our community of Brown County and the region of southwest-central Indiana. To lead the initiative, a planning team will be gathered to work under the leadership of the district readiness coordinator.

I am pleased to share that we recently conducted interviews for this fully grant-funded position and Christy Wrightsman, current principal of Van Buren Elementary School, will be assuming the role of district readiness coordinator. Mrs. Wrightsman has proven to be passionate for this work and has displayed a sincere commitment to the economic and community prosperity of Brown County.

I believe that there is a strong reason why Brown County Schools was chosen for this highly competitive grant. The CEO of ROI, Tina Peterson, stated, “This region needs a pipeline of qualified employees that bring a diversity of experiences and educational attainment levels. Ready Schools will bring school districts, employers and communities together to build an approach that helps students develop the skills they need to meet the demands and opportunities of today and tomorrow.”

Our community showed, through our grant application and interview process, that we are a community ready for these conversations.

The interview process included nearly 30 teachers, administrators, community and governmental leaders, and parents who are engaged in our schools and community. We were able to answer questions that made us so proud to be a member of the Brown County community.

When I looked around the room during the interview process, it was so touching to realize how many educators in our school district and leaders in both our community and government attended and graduated from Brown County Schools. The sense of “giving back” to the community that has given them so much is inspiring.

This year will realize a profound focus on this work throughout our pre-K through Grade 12 environment, as well as translating efforts with the Brown County Career Resource Center. We will focus on five core principles, including:

  • every student is engaged in a relevant path to success;
  • students graduate high school ready for post-secondary and career success;
  • meaningful and ongoing collaboration occurs among schools, industry and community;
  • teaching and learning are grounded in relevancy; and
  • schools embrace the significant role they play in achieving regional prosperity.

We would like to thank the community of Brown County for the opportunity to receive this grant. If we weren’t “us,” this grant would not have been realized.

ROI was intentionally looking for schools and communities who displayed readiness for these conversations. Brown County proved “ready” and we are excited to get mobilized so our community may realize significant impact from this incredible grant opportunity.

We can’t wait to get started. Join us!

Laura Hammack is superintendent of Brown County schools. She can be reached at 812-988-6601 or