Seal of the Governor
For Immediate Release: July 30, 2019
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Alenaa Yarmosky, | Virginia Department of Education: Charles Pyle,, (804) 371-2420

Governor Northam Awards High School Innovation Planning and Implementation Grants

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced the award of high school innovation grants to thirteen school divisions to develop or implement programs that promote Virginia’s 5 C’s: critical thinking, creative thinking, collaboration, communication, and citizenship while preparing students for careers and postsecondary education. The grants are for the 2019-2020 school year. Eight school divisions received initial planning grants, while five divisions were awarded funding to support implementation this fall of previously planned innovative programs.

“Modernizing instructional approaches in our schools helps to improve educational outcomes and adapt to the needs of a 21st-century economy,” said Governor Northam. “These grants will allow our teachers to design innovative programs that pair classroom learning with the professional skills and experiences required for success after high school, regardless of whether Virginia students are college bound or plan to enter the workforce.”

Buchanan County, Fauquier County, Franklin County, and Goochland County will each receive $50,000 first-year innovation planning grants. Charles City County, Halifax County, Henrico County, and Mecklenburg County will share a fifth $50,000 grant. The proposed innovative high school programs are as follows:

  • Buchanan County — Buchanan County will develop a high school curriculum incorporating blended, multidisciplinary courses and career-exploration opportunities, including job shadowing and internships. Project-oriented instruction at all county high schools and the Buchanan County Career, Technology & Higher Learning Center will fuse the arts, social sciences, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), writing and research, and community service.
  • Design Virginia High School Innovation Network (Halifax, Henrico, Mecklenburg, and Charles City counties) — Network divisions will focus on college, career, and community readiness to prepare students for post-secondary experiences. Innovations include integrating instruction in multiple content areas with practical application and providing internships and apprenticeships for students in the following high schools: Halifax County High in Halifax County; Bluestone High and Park View High in Mecklenburg County; Charles City High in Charles City County; and Highland Springs High and J.R. Tucker High in Henrico County.
  • Goochland County — Goochland County will develop a project-based, interdisciplinary program at Goochland High to give students an individualized approach to learning through career and technical education academies focusing on health and public safety, communications, agricultural and natural resources, STEM, business and marketing, and manufacturing and construction. Planned innovations include competency-based assessment of student progress, virtualization of student learning, and senior capstone projects.
  • Fauquier County — Fauquier County will provide teachers at Liberty High with autonomy to present interdisciplinary instruction affording students opportunities to apply content knowledge through authentic, real-world projects. Students will take part in a school wide service-learning project and forge strong community and higher education partnerships connecting juniors and seniors with mentors to ensure engagement.
  • Franklin County — Franklin County will create personalized competency-based learning environments at Franklin County High to allow for accelerated completion of state graduation requirements through virtual classes, integrated instruction, and flexible scheduling. The planned innovations include a health science career pathway as a model for future additional career pathways. 

“I congratulate these divisions for their vision in designing innovative programs to prepare students for successful transitions from high school to college or the workforce,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane. “I also want to thank the businesses in these communities for their willingness to partner with schools and open their doors to students. This type of collaboration will ensure that our students will have readily accessible opportunities to align their skills and personal interests by exploring career paths and work-based learning experiences that prepare them for a successful future beyond high school.”

Cumberland County, Louisa County, Montgomery County, Staunton, and West Point were each awarded $50,000 high school program implementation grants as follows:

  • Cumberland County — The Ticket 2 Tomorrow program will meet student needs through personalized career exploration — both on and off campus — while incorporating career-based credit, including allowing students to accumulate portable credentials and digital badges to gauge acquisition of the “5 C's” (critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, communication and citizenship) as they relate to the workforce.
  • Louisa County — Louisa County High’s Make a Difference Project will create three pathways for students to enter the teaching profession. Participants will have opportunities to work directly with students (ages 3-5) in the Little Lions Learning Lab, which is housed on the high school campus. Participating Louisa High students will also have the opportunity to complete college credit courses and earn child development credentials.
  • Montgomery County — Blacksburg High’s Bruin Academy will provide work-based learning experiences for freshmen and sophomores focused on personalized instruction and project-based interdisciplinary courses. Career pathways will offer routes to a diploma while preparing Blacksburg High juniors and seniors for careers in applied mathematics, health services, communications, computer technologies, natural sciences or engineering.
  • Staunton — The grant will support implementation of three “college/career corridors,” a performing arts center, and a “multi-level” media center at Staunton High. The corridors and centers will offer courses aligned with college and career pathways. Student learning will be assessed through performance assessments and tasks.
  • West Point — The planning grant will support implementation of division-wide K-12 reforms, including the adoption of performance-based learning and performance assessments in all grades; the redesign of curricula to incorporate technology and workplace skills; the creation of flexibility in teaching, learning, and scheduling; and the fostering of a learning climate that promotes leadership by teachers.

“Virginia is leading the way in transforming the high school experience,” said Secretary of Education Atif Qarni. “These grants will help students receive relevant instruction and experiences that expose them to in-demand field and equip them to succeed after graduation,”

The 2018 General Assembly authorized up to $500,000 in competitive grants in 2019 for school divisions to plan high school program innovations approved by the Virginia Department of Education, or to implement previously approved plans. The legislature defined the essential elements of high school program innovation as including the following: student centered learning, with progress based on proficiency; “real-world” connections aligned with local workforce needs and emphasizing transitions to college or career or both; and varying models for educator supports and staffing.

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