The Virginia Board of Education has jointly awarded Roanoke County Public Schools, Salem City Public Schools and Roanoke City Public Schools with a Virginia Innovative Practices Award.
Together, the three school systems were recognized for their regional student registered apprenticeship program. This program provides students with high-quality apprenticeship opportunities that could lead to industry-recognized credentials and/or full-time employment, while also meeting local business’ needs. The Board of Education recognized the divisions for creating a unified program with commonly shared goals, objectives, timelines, and processes.
Schools, divisions, and school boards are recognized every two years for innovative practices based upon the following criteria:
- School- or division-wide implementation of a new or creative evidence-based alternative to existing instructional or administrative practices in a defined student population
- Practice must be implemented for at least two full academic years.
- Goals and objectives for practice must align with one of the following priority areas:
- Developing an integrated STEM approach to learning;
- Building genuine relationships with families to support overall family well-being and children’s healthy development;
- Elevating the quality and character of the school environment so that it the reflects the positive and support norms, goals, and values of the community;
- Retaining high-quality teachers; and
- Developing life-ready students through implementation of the Profile of a Virginia Graduate
Accreditation-eligible schools, school divisions, and local school boards are eligible to participate.
“The student registered apprenticeship program is a key part of Roanoke County’s commitment to graduate students who are ‘Opportunity Ready’, and we are very proud of our partnership with Roanoke City and Salem City schools,” said Dr. Ken Nicely, superintendent of Roanoke County Public Schools. “This effort started in 2017 as a pilot program between Roanoke County Public Schools and the Western Virginia Water Authority. Now, seven years later, we’ve grown to include three school districts, with dozens of businesses and apprentices, some of whom have graduated and now have successful careers with their host business,” Dr. Nicely said.
“We are excited that our regional partnership with Roanoke County, Roanoke City, and employers across the Roanoke Valley was recognized as an innovative practice. This program helps ensure that student opportunities aren't limited by their zip code and it exposes students to a variety of career opportunities right here in their own backyard. We hope to continue to grow this program so that more of our students will choose careers right here in the Roanoke Valley,” said Dr. Curtis Hicks, superintendent of Salem City Schools.
The recognition highlights the Roanoke Valley school divisions’ commitment to collaboration, said Dr. Verletta White, superintendent of Roanoke City Public Schools and the 2024 Virginia and Region 6 Superintendent of the Year.
“In Roanoke City Public Schools, we have a saying: We Are One,” Dr. White said. “We are moving forward, staying focused, and working together for the benefit of all our students so they graduate with both a diploma and a resume of skills and experiences. We are fortunate to have such strong partnerships with our neighboring school divisions and with our business and community partners. Our community benefits from a new generation ready, willing, and more than capable of entering tomorrow’s workforce.”
Salem High School Apprentices - Denny Slydio, Anthony Zuniga-Gomes and Megan Graboyes