A little more than a year after partnering with Tyner Academy to create a program that helps its students decide if they want to be teachers, UTC is joining forces with two other schools.

As part of Hamilton County Schools’ Future Ready Institutes, the UTC School of Education and Honors College will partner with Signal Mountain Middle/High School and Ooltewah High School. This time, though, instead of giving students the chance to pursue teaching as a career, the institute is providing advance courses as part of the International Baccalaureate programs at each school to get them ready for college.

“It’s internationally recognized and has very specific components that, in some ways, mirrors some of the skills a student needs to be successful in college,” says Valerie Rutledge, dean of the College of Health, Education and Professional Studies. “So it has to do with research. It has to do with planning and preparation of projects and solving problems.”

Future Ready Institutes are spread across the Hamilton County school system, offering career-oriented programs that, among other areas, focus on such technology, education, medicine, business, insurance and marketing.

“The goal is to create this whole list of Future Ready Institutes that students from different schools could attend based on their interest in their careers for the future,” Rutledge explains. “They give students an exposure to the profession so, when they finish, they can make an informed decision: ‘I really do want to be an engineer’ or ‘Gosh, I could never be an engineer.’

“So rather than going to college and using those first couple of years to figure that out, they will have enough knowledge to make a decisions and an opportunity to gain some skills that are related to that profession.”

The UTC/Tyner Institute was a four-year commitment from students interested in exploring teaching as a career. The institute at Signal Mountain will also be a four-year program but at Ooltewah, since it’s a high school only, it will be a two-year program, says Renee Murley, director of the School of Education at UTC.

At the end of the institute’s International Baccalaureate program, students will have had a wide range of experiences, including tours of UTC’s campus, the chance to talk with current college students, collaborating on projects with faculty and attending some university classes, she says.

Rutledge adds that UTC faculty will go to Signal Mountain Middle/High and Ooltewah High as well.

“There may be faculty from here who maybe do some of the judging of their projects and presentations, which is a significant piece of the International Baccalaureate curriculum,” she says.

“At the end of their high school experience, they’ll have had access to teachers, to classes, to on-campus events, to a variety of things that we have identified would be appropriate to give those students the kinds of experiences and opportunities they want to make sure they have before they graduate,” she says.

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