Kentucky Innovative Learning Network exhibition showcases student-centered learning


(ELIZABETHTOWN, KY) – The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) hosted the second-annual Kentucky Innovative Learning Network (KY ILN) Exhibition of Innovation and Learning at the Hardin County Early College and Career Center on June 7.

The event, sponsored by KDE’s Division of Innovation, showcased the work of educators in 18 districts.

KY ILN is a partnership between local school districts and KDE, providing a shared professional learning space for education leaders dedicated to furthering the United We Learn vision: creating vibrant learning experiences, accelerating innovation and building a bold new future with communities.

Rob Collins, innovative programs consultant in the KDE Division of Innovation, said the exhibition was the culmination of a year’s worth of work and effort.

“There’s something about the atmosphere that’s electric; seeing folks who really care about the future of education and making it more student-centered,” he said. “When they get together and they get to collaborate and improve one another’s work and you can see them making connections that they’re going to pull on later, it’s really special.”

District leaders and teachers showcased the work they’ve done through poster displays and formal presentations with school leaders from other districts.

“(The KY ILN is) really offering feedback on those efforts so that they can improve right into the next year,” said Collins.

Nikki Jolly, a member of the 2024 KY ILN Innovative Teacher Fellowship programfrom Metcalfe County Middle School, worked on project-based learning in her art class, directing students to create an art piece that helped tell the story of Metcalfe County.

“The students were just immersed into all different things Metcalfe County,” she said. “They came up with an interest and then researched it, created an art piece with it, an artist statement, and then they were able to present it at their exhibition.”

Jolly said she had been working as a special education teacher for 12 years before teaching art at the middle school this past school year. She pursued the KY ILN Innovative Teacher Fellowship to connect and collaborate with other teachers.

“It really did pay off,” said Jolly. “I had a lot of good people that I worked with, colleagues that were able to help me.”

The day started with student-led tours of the Hardin County Early College and Career Center, which serves students in the county by giving them the opportunity to explore their interests and get hands-on, in-depth instruction in several career and technical education (CTE) pathways.

“We’re very excited about what we’re able to do here in this building,” said Dan Robbins, principal of the center. “And our big focus here is all around postsecondary readiness.”

Hardin County district leaders work with Elizabethtown Community and Technical College, Western Kentucky University, Sullivan University and many local businesses to bolster the center’s offerings.

Interim Commissioner of Education Robin Fields Kinney toured the career center and opened the exhibition, thanking the educators who participate in the KY ILN for their efforts.

“We are so fortunate that we have people that are working in this space: being innovative, being creative and being good examples for others,” she said. “We are looking for each and every child in the Commonwealth to have the opportunities that you all are already providing in some form or fashion.”

The Kentucky Student Voice Team (KSVT) also joined the exhibition and led the group in an interactive keynote activity.

Part of the activity involved asking teachers how much they felt like they were heard as students, with most indicating some level of being overlooked as a student. Other activities exemplified the work of the KSVT, which aims to bolster the role of students and young people in education research, policy and storytelling.

Collins said work being done in the districts and the feedback provided through the KY ILN will continue to strengthen education in Kentucky.

“We are an innovative network, so we’re always reinventing,” he said.

Thank you for supporting local journalism.
Click here to Subscribe.
Click here to donate.