CLPS partners with Ford NGL to expand high school academies

By: Maria Allard | Warren Weekly | Published November 1, 2019


WARREN/CENTER LINE — Center Line Public Schools officials are working to take the Center Line High School education to the next level.

The district is partnering with Ford Next Generation Learning, or NGL, to enhance the academies and further prepare high school graduates for 21st-century jobs.

In August 2016, Center Line Public Schools opened its two educational academies at CLHS. The two academies are for 10th, 11th and 12th grade students and include the Academy of Industry, Technology and Innovation, and the Academy of Health and Human Services.

Depending on which academy students choose, classes include the areas of engineering technology; innovative art and design; business, commerce and entrepreneurship; digital design and communication; firefighting and first responders; law and justice; and public services. There’s also a freshman academy at the school.

On Oct. 22, the Ford NGL Planning Committee met at DeCarlo’s Banquet and Convention Center in Warren to further discuss the academies’ transformation with stakeholders and interested parties. Several local business representatives were in attendance, as were Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel and Center Line Mayor Bob Binson.

Throughout the day, attendees discussed outcomes and objectives, continued transformation, a high school graduate profile analysis, the top 10 industry sectors, community engagement, tactical plan brainstorming and more.

Ford NGL is a community initiative that brings together educators, employers and community leaders to implement a model for transforming secondary schools with the goal of improving the regional workforce system. Ford NGL also helps educators with professional development.

“We are a framework and transformation model that is part of the Ford Motor Co.,” said Ford NGL Community Coach Scott Palmer, who also attended the event at DeCarlo’s. “Center Line has the academies in place. We’re helping them and revamping things that will help in the classroom. I see great promise for Center Line.”

One goal of Ford NGL is to increase community prosperity that benefits all. Another goal is to prepare young people for college, careers right after high school, trade schools and lifelong learning. One area Ford NGL and the district will be looking at is how Center Line can create a high school academy that offers programs more relatable to the workforce. Ford NGL and CLPS will work together to make students more marketable after high school.

Ford NGL representatives had visited the district to conduct an audit on the strengths of the high school academies and also where the program needs improvement. Representatives spoke with teachers, students, parents, community leaders, administrators and members of the public.

“The audit allowed us to talk about the areas that needed some additional consideration,” CLPS Superintendent Eve Kaltz said.

Ford NGL representatives will be offering advice regarding what kinds of skills students would need in order to fill certain jobs after high school. The partnership will allow Ford NGL representatives to offer their expertise and experience to have an impact on the career academies and the freshman academy.

“They’re helping us to enhance the academies of Center Line and take it to a new level,” said Lisa Oleski, CLPS assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction. “It does involve some training. The most important piece is to facilitate bringing people together to help develop the programs necessary.”

“Center Line has a tight-knit community, a school board that is very supportive of this type of transformation, and a teaching staff that is willing to consider how to do things differently,” Palmer said.

While the Ford NGL program is focused on the high school, Kaltz said it essentially will help support learning from kindergarten through 12th grade.

“It helps us to further develop our programs for kindergarten all the way to the high school academies,” she said.

“It allows for real-world projects and for students to see beyond the four walls of their high school,” Palmer said.

CLPS is entering phases two and three of its partnership with Ford NGL, in which the district will establish and convene its Planning Committee, align members to their roles and responsibilities, and write its master plan.

“Part of the process is to have a Community Convening Organization, which connects us with business and industry,” Kaltz said.

CLPS officials announced that the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development will serve as the district’s Community Convening Organization. The Community Convening Organization provides guidance and oversight throughout the phases of the Ford NGL roadmap.

The Community Convening Organization focuses on business and community development and helps secure resources that support the community transformation.

The Planning Committee will meet again Dec. 13 and Jan. 28.