August 24, 2018

Shortridge Future Center

A SPACE TO GROW & THRIVE – Shortridge High School students (above) recently used their Future Center for a brainstorming session to work on extended essays and receive writing assistance from the center’s writing specialist. Below, some of the pennants that decorate the Shortridge Future Center, and members of the Arsenal Technical High School cheer squad used their Future Center for a weekly study table session.

Inside Room 175 at Shortridge High School, pennants from a range of colleges and universities — state, regional and national, Ivy League and Big 10 — add color and aspiration to the school’s Future Center.

Revolving shelves display college handbooks and guides, as well as career brochures. A large screen TV hangs on a wall across from a host of tables and chairs that are cast on wheels to change the room’s configuration at will.

Future Center Pennants

And, soon, students will use a bank of computers to complete everything from college essays, job applications and resumes. 

While the scene is similar inside all four Future Centers at Arsenal Technical, Crispus Attucks, George Washington and Shortridge high schools, some of the programs offered will vary based on the needs of students — and even their parents.

Since school opened August 6, these centers have collectively had a flurry of activity.

At Crispus Attucks, Future Center Coordinator Andrea Harris has already met with the senior class to discuss SAT testing dates and key deadlines for college entrance. In September, parents will visit the center to learn about the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). 

“We are making sure parents understand that we are here to support not just their student, but them as well,” said Harris. “If (parents) need job-skills training or help perfecting a resume, we can support them with that. But going back to the student piece, we want parents to know that if they have questions pertaining to college or any of the 3Es (Enrolled, Enlisted, Employed) this is where they can ask those questions.”

At George Washington, Future Center student ambassadors have used the room to brainstorm ideas for school improvement and ways to promote the center and its services to the student body. The staff has also used the room to help seniors sign up for the ACT.

Tech Future Center

Members of the Arsenal Tech cheer squad have used their Future Center for study tables, while staff recently hosted a high-tech training session about how to support student success.

At Shortridge, the Future Center has been used for college rep visits from both Taylor University and IUPUI — with 13 more already on the schedule. Students have also used the space to work on scholarships, to brainstorm extended essays, and for assistance from the center’s Writing Specialist, Chris Speckman, also a Butler University professor.

Made possible through a $2.8 million grant from the Eli Lilly Foundation, these centers are part of the new experience at the district’s four all-choice high schools. The goal of each center is to provide supportive services designed to increase the number of students completing high school and moving on to Enrolled in a college or university, Enlisted in the militaryorEmployed at a livable wage upon graduation.

In addition to college assistance and preparation, the centers will also host guest speakers who represent the 3Es, offering tutoring, mock interviews, resume writing, skill building and many other services to ensure students are truly college and career ready.

“The Future Centers are a hub for movement for high school students that’s going to ensure that they are successful – not only in the high school setting but post-secondary,” said Flora Jones, director of postsecondary readiness. “Each center is led by a coordinator, who (manages) relationships and movement between community partners, stakeholders, higher education, businesses and referral agencies. Whatever students need will happen in the Future Centers.”

Jones said the centers are designed to make IPS students globally competitive, not just from the aspect of college but also career and the military.

The centers are also being well received by students and the community, according to Sherri Barrow, coordinator of the Future Center at Shortridge.

“Everywhere I go, when I talk about the Future Centers, I get so many business cards, I get so many people who want to reach out,” said Barrow. “I see people’s eyes light up and they say, ‘I’ve been waiting to donate; I’ve been waiting to mentor.’ Now, here’s the one-stop shop where those people can give back to our students. … To have a location that the community can funnel through is amazing. The Future Center is that place.”

Barrow believes it’s the next generation of where education has to go.

Stay connected to the IPS Future Centers by following the coordinators at IPS Future Centers on Facebook and @IPSFuture Centers on Twitter.