Cheryl's Travels: Nashville to Louisville


Now that I have figured out with Delta how I am going to get home in the next two days, I find myself at the airport with plenty of time to think about the last two weeks of being on the road. While flight delays and cancellations are never pleasant, it certainly helps to reflect on the incredible work taking place in the Ford NGL network.

The Ford NGL team is always interested in hearing about my escapades on the road. I am in a unique position in that I am Ford NGL’s ambassador with national organizations and communities across our network. Over the course of 2017, I plan to share my experiences representing Ford NGL and learning from the various partners, colleagues and community leaders. While every trip wears me out and contributes to Delta’s bottom line, the trips also leave me inspired and motivated. Our motto is to “make the most of every trip” and to schedule as many meetings as possible and continue to build relationships that will ultimately benefit the students of this country.

Last week I had the opportunity to be present for The Academies of Nashville’s 10th Anniversary celebration and recommitment ceremony. As many of you know, Nashville is also a Ford NGL Hub and has been inspiring communities all over the country to use the Ford NGL framework to develop scalable and sustainable career academy networks. Being able to see this work in action has helped educators and community leaders understand the power of the academy model and how they can engage in meaningful ways with students and teachers in their community.

I was humbled that Ford NGL was one of five organizations honored for their work and support of The Academies of Nashville (AON), but I was even more humbled by the hundreds of employers and community organizations who have been supporting AON for the last 10 years. This is not a program – one that comes and then goes – this is truly a transformation model and the proof is in the several communities who have been doing this for a very long time successfully.

I then traveled to Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) in Louisville where I was blown away by the progress that has been taking place since my last visit. My colleague, Rick Delano and I had an opportunity to visit with three high schools in Louisville to see the actual transformation taking place. We were also able to sit into a “guiding team” meeting with employers, community members and district representatives. You know this is powerful when the hosts of the meeting had to bring in additional chairs because so many community members showed up and were so excited to be part of this transformation. The energy was remarkable!

It is heartwarming to see Nashville not only inspiring and occasionally mentoring Louisville, but to see the friendly competition that is taking place between these two spectacular cities that are within a 3-hour drive of each other. I truly believe that Louisville is going to be another fabulous model in the very near future.

What continues to excite and amaze me is the energy that builds in a community as they learn about this model and begin to collaboratively plan for how they will support all three of the Ford NGL strands. The process of bringing people together who have created a common vision of success provides such an incredible opportunity to build relationships that not only improve student outcomes, but also workforce and community outcomes. It is fun to see a community such as Nashville who has been at this for a long time and imagine how much quicker it might take place for a community like Louisville who is learning from the Ford NGL network.

As I sit here today, I am heartened by the incredible passion of the organizations and individuals who deeply engaged in this effort as well as their collective will and tenacity. Further, they should be commended for their willingness to mentor, share and support one another throughout their journey. It is much easier to have all the answers and not share to stay on top.