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After administrators from the Racine Unified School District worked with the Ford Next Generation Learning to design a master plan for its career academies, the district is being named a Ford NGL community.

The Racine Unified School District is the 21st district to become part of the community.

The designation means the district becomes part of a national network of schools that are focused on helping students prepare for college and professional success, according to a press release by the Racine Unified School District. The academies will focus on preparing students for engineering, healthcare, technology, and marketing careers.

In other school districts, the academy model has improved student performance.

“Our team of administrators, teachers, business and post-secondary leaders and other community members and parents have committed countless hours to collaboratively preparing for a successful launch of the Academies of Racine,” said Lolli Haws, superintendent of the Racine Unified School District. “We are honored to join the Ford NGL community and fortunate to benefit from this partnership.”

The foundation of the program includes bringing together the district and their communities to partner and share resources to improve student outcomes.

“Ford NGL research has proven that community ownership and accountability is just as important to educating our children as good study habits and hard work,” said Cheryl Carrier, executive director, Ford Next Generation Learning. ”The Ford NGL partnership gives RUSD students and teachers a competitive edge that not only improves their chances for future success, but will benefit the community as a whole for years to come.”

Up until recently, officials with the Racine Education Association had not wholeheartedly embraced the academy model and they have in the past said they would like to see the district take more time to start the program.

But on Wednesday, REA president Aaron Eick issued the following statement:

“We are glad to see this investment and look forward to adding programs to help our children obtain job skills. There is much work to be done to make sure that these resources lead to real and long-term positive impact. The educators in RUSD are ready to move forward. As the academies are implemented for freshman REA will do everything in our power to make sure the program is implemented with fidelity and with research based practices. All of Racine’s children deserve a great school.”

To celebrate the designation, the district plans to hold a reception at 5:15 p.m. and ceremony at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Racine Unified School District Administrative Services Campus, 3109 Mt. Pleasant St.

Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.