All posts by Carrie Rogers

NextGen Coding Skills for High School in Partnership with the Software Guild

About a year ago, TEK, partnered with Interapt, a technology company in Louisville, Kentucky to pilot a program connecting programming skills providers and high school students. The NextGen Coding Skills for High School program is the outcome of this partnership. The NextGen Coding Skills for High School project is the second iteration of work around connecting programming skills providers and high school students.  The second iteration of the program is in partnership with The Software Guild, a national Coding Boot Camp provider, to develop a strong pathway for Kentucky students that provides software development curriculum to high school students in Central and Northern Kentucky school districts.

NextGen Coding Skills for High School started August 1, in Shelby County. The cohort consists of juniors and seniors from Shelby County, at the Area Technical Center. The students will learn entry level software development skills in Java and C#/.Net languages, as well as career counseling and apprenticeship and internship opportunities, while obtaining JCTC credit and registered apprenticeship hours.

This partnership will also yield integrated coursework into Kentucky accredited courses and pathways in partnership with the Kentucky Department of Education. As well as develop a sustainable and scalable model from pilot projects in partnership with content providers, local businesses, and public schools in Kentucky.


About The Software Guild

At our coding bootcamp, we focus on the languages companies want, with real-world curriculum taught by experienced master instructors. Apprentices graduate from The Software Guild with relevant, employable skills. A choice of locations or online programs offer options that are designed to help apprentices succeed.


Transform Education Kentucky Announces Major Commitment to Interapt Skills for High School Program

Successful entrepreneur, investor, and philanthropist Brook Smith invests his resources in bridging the gap between innovators, technology, and the nonprofit sector.

LOUISVILLE, KY December 1, 2017‑‑Transform Education Kentucky (TEK) today announced a major commitment to their Interapt Skills for High School Program from Brook T. Smith‑‑a successful entrepreneur, investor, and philanthropist from Louisville.

TEK partnered with Interapt‑‑an innovation and software development  irm‑‑to launch a training program that will teach high school seniors iOS and Android coding skills that will set them on a path for a career in technology. Interapt Skills for High School is a unique project, bringing together innovators from high technology, philanthropy, and the nonprofit sector. Brook Smith sees a unique opportunity to address multiple challenges in one project.

“Louisville companies cannot find enough qualified tech workers to fill hundreds of open positions,” Smith said. “And four‑year college may not be the best option for many high school seniors. I see Interapt Skills for High School as a great way to engage students and provide highly‑qualified staff for in‑demand positions right here in Louisville. I’m proud to be an early investor.”

Barbara Bellissimo, CEO of Transform Education Kentucky said, “Nonprofit organizations have the expertise to be great partners, yet lack the resources to execute quickly and effectively. Brook recognizes this, and is willing to support our ground‑breaking work in its formative stages. His experience as a successful entrepreneur and private sector investor gives Brook a unique ability to recognize and develop game‑changing projects. He invests financial resources as well as his own time and expertise, so that projects do not lose their innovative edge.”

Smith has committed a donation of $500,000 to support the first cohort of Interapt Skills for High School, which launches January 8, 2018. He will also invest his own time and expertise with TEK and Interapt to recruit additional support and ensure the success of the program.

“As you can imagine, my wife, Pam (a former teacher), and I have had many conversations about investing in the Interapt Skills for High School program given the magnitude of this commitment,” added Smith. “Our hope is that businesses across Louisville and the Commonwealth will take note, step up, and hire these soon‑to‑be highly qualified young men and women.”

To learn more about Interapt Skills for High School, visit .


About Brook T. Smith

After graduating from Clemson University, Brook T. Smith has spent the last twenty‑five years as a proven expert in the surety‑bonding sector. His company, Smith‑Manus, has gained its success by providing bonds on behalf of hundreds of companies across numerous industries throughout the United States and Canada.

As an impassioned, serial entrepreneur and philanthropist, Brook dedicates his time to supporting social enterprise entrepreneurs and nonprofits as they apply commercial strategies to maximize improvements in human sustainability and environmental wellbeing.

Brook is also a devoted supporter of his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky and actively participates in multiple organizations. He has served on the board of directors of The Speed Art Museum, Locust Grove Historic Home, and the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft.


About Transform Education Kentucky

Transform Education Kentucky transforms education by identifying and piloting innovations. They do this by: connecting innovators and capital and evaluating ROI; providing support to scale innovations; and creating opportunities for collaboration and learning among stakeholders. Find out more at .

Interapt Skills To Train High School Seniors in Coding, Entrepreneurship, Before Graduation

Innovative program brings business, education and philanthropy together to prepare students for technology careers

LOUISVILLE, KY, November 17,  2017 – Interapt, an innovation and software development firm in Louisville, and Transform Education Kentucky, a nonprofit focused on innovating in education, announced today that they are accepting applications for a training program called Interapt Skills, which is scheduled to begin on January 8, 2017.

Interapt Skills is an intensive education program, which has been adapted for high school seniors to develop digital, business, and life skills that can set them on a path to a successful career in technology.

Students from three districts are eligible to apply to the program:  Jefferson County, Eminence Independent, and Shelby County. The districts will be providing transportation to the program, which will be held in Louisville Monday through Friday.

“In their final semester of high school, students will learn fundamental coding skills for Apple and Android mobile apps. These are valuable skills that will not only prepare them for a potential career path as a software developer, but also introduce them to multiple career paths within the software development life cycle,” said Ankur Gopal, founder and CEO of Interapt. “We believe our immersive and industry-centric training can help address our country’s technology skills gap, while simultaneously creating skills, jobs, and new opportunity for students and companies in our Commonwealth. Those that complete the program will be extremely well prepared to enter into a 2-year degree, a 4 year degree, or an apprenticeship program; leading to a job.”

Interapt is a Registered Apprenticeship Program with the United States Department of Labor and the State Of Kentucky Department of Labor. Earlier this year, Interapt used its specialized training program to successfully train and place 35 Eastern Kentuckians in technology careers. Average salaries of those individuals went from $17,000 to $40,000 per year. Some also went on to continue their education at 2-year and 4-year colleges.  “Our team took on a very hard task in Eastern Kentucky, and positively changed a lot of lives in the process. We learned a lot during our initial pilot in Paintsville, and have taken those lessons and used the feedback to improve our program. We found great value and impact in work we were doing, and are very pleased to expand it throughout Kentucky.”

“This program won’t be easy,” said Alex Hughes, a graduate of Interapt’s Eastern Kentucky program. “It will take great persistence and dedication. Sometimes you might struggle to keep up, but there will be mentors to support you and help you stay on track. At the end of the program, you’ll be ahead of many of your peers and on track to fill one of these critical positions.”

Barbara Bellissimo, CEO of Transform Education Kentucky said, “By the year 2020, there will be over 10,000 open technology jobs in the Louisville metro area. Many businesses are already struggling to find skilled software developers. That is why we are teaming with local investors, schools, and businesses to provide this training free of charge to students who could land a job in just a few months. By starting them on a path to fill positions needed by local business, we improve business, keep taxpayers local, and most importantly set students up for a viable career.”

Students should complete their applications online by November 30, 2017 at

About Interapt, LLC

Interapt, LLC is an award-winning technology firm that delivers Innovation and Opportunity as a Service, with a focus on workforce engagement and social impact through technology skills training and mobile software development. For more information, visit

About Transform Education Kentucky

Transform Education Kentucky transforms education by identifying and piloting innovations. They do this by: connecting innovators and capital and evaluating ROI; providing support to scale innovations; and creating opportunities for collaboration and learning among stakeholders. Find out more at

Celebrating our board chair transition

For the first time in The Fund’s three-year history, we celebrate the passing of the gavel from one Board Chairman to the next. Billy Harper, CEO of Harper Industries, is The Fund’s founding Board Chairman. As his three-year term comes to an end, he now passes the position on to Sam Corbett, Executive Director of the Jefferson County Public Education Foundation. “It’s been an honor to work with my peers, building this organization from the ground up. I truly believe innovation is a key component of a cutting-edge education system. I couldn’t be prouder of the work we’ve accomplished here and I look forward to what is still to come from this group,” said Harper of his time as Board Chairman of The Fund. He will remain a member of The Fund’s Board of Directors.

Forty-nine Kentucky teachers selected for 2015-2016 Next Generation Instructional Design Network

The Fund for Transforming Education in Kentucky has chosen forty-nine teachers from across the Commonwealth to participate in its 2015-2016 Next Generation Instructional Design Network (NGID Network).

The teachers, chosen for their commitment to professional learning and interest in collaborative teaching, were selected from a pool of more than 70 applicants. Over the 2015-2016 school year, the group will join forces to create and implement common units of study – instructional tasks, lessons and assessments to help students master more academically rigorous content. The units will be aligned to the Kentucky Core Academic Standards, which includes in entirety the Common Core, Next Generation Science Standards and the C3 Social Studies Framework.

By collaborating across school and district lines, teachers can create and implement common units of study and mathematics formative assessment lessons that will allow them to meet students’ needs toward college and career readiness in a global world.

“Teachers all across this country often find themselves isolated from the larger world in which we live and work. This project is unique in that it brings teachers together, outside of the classroom, to align best practices and enhance the student learning experience. It’s an exciting opportunity for both the stellar cadre of teachers selected to participate and the students in their classrooms this year,” said Barbara Bellissimo, Executive Director of The Fund.

The concept of the NGID Network initiated from a research study with a smaller group of Kentucky and Colorado teachers, known as the Common Assignment Study (CAS). Those who participated in CAS will take the lessons-learned from that study and apply those when leading the group of participants selected for the 2015-2016 NGID Network. Together they will create a collection of commonly created lessons and assessments for use by other Kentucky teachers that are more inquiry based in design and that align with students’ actual interests.

Renee Boss, Initiative Director for The Fund, expressed enthusiasm for the potential of the NGID Network and its continuation of the Common Assignment Study.

“Based on research and previous learning about what teachers need for professional development, we (The Fund) are committed to learning led by teachers. Ten of our teachers from the Common Assignment Study will lead the Next Generation Instructional Design Network. It’s inspiring to see this work spreading across the Commonwealth and ultimately creating a better learning experience for our students.”

2015-2016 NGID Network

Angela Baker Berea Independent
Lisa Bartley Washington County
Leslie Bartow Henderson County
Kim Blythe Henderson County
Christopher Boss Franklin County
Anna Brannen Jessamine County
Janice Bullard Shelby County
Mickey Campbell Fayette County
Susan Cintra Madison County
Amy Clancy Walton-Verona Independent
Jacqueline Coleman Jessamine County
Adrienne Custer Graves County
Toni Dix Jessamine County
Jennifer English Henderson County
Christina Ethridge Trigg County
Summer Garris Larue County
Lindsay Ginsburg Muhlenberg County
Zack Hardin Fayette County
Kristina Hill Shelby County
Jessica Holman Boone County
Iris Isaacs Fayette County
Carmen Johnson Elizabethtown Independent
Ellen Kenimer Jessamine County
Ashley Lamb-Sinclair Oldham County
Nathan Lockhart Fayette County
Mark Mallory Graves County
Brian McDowell Mason County
Kevin Melloan Fayette County
Melissa Mills Elizabethtown Independent
Martha Nau Jessamine County
Emily Northcutt Hart County
Sarah Orear Elizabethtown Independent
Kari Patrick Shelby County
Caroline Rea Caldwell County
Josh Rhodes Jefferson County
Sheena Roller Jessamine County
Katie Ruff Henry County
Samantha Sams Woodford County
Lacey Schrock Trigg County
Michelle Schuster Boone County
Tricia Shelton Boone County
Joanna Stevens Lincoln County
Lisa Stevens Trigg County
Susan Strait Jessamine County
Kenita Sutherland Marshall County
Melissa Thompson Jessamine County
Lisa Voils Fayette County
Theresa Wilkins Ballard County
Kathie Wrightson Shelby County


Kentucky educators join the Alliance for Education to discuss tools for College and Career-Ready Standards

Two Kentucky educators will be featured on an upcoming webinar hosted by the Alliance for Excellent Education to discuss how curriculum tools can help teachers implement college-and career-ready standards and raise levels of learning for students, particularly those who are low-performing. Renee Boss, Initiative Director at The Fund for Transforming Education in Kentucky and Mickey Campbell, history teacher at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, will serve on a four-member panel as issue experts in the area of disciplinary literacy.

The webinar will examine how these tools enable teachers to use their own curriculum based on students needs while aiming at common, high standards. While forty-three states have adopted the Common Core State Standards, and the rest have adopted separate standards for college and career readiness, teachers need support in developing curriculum that can guide students toward those benchmarks. Recognizing this need, a group of experts in literacy and curriculum formed the Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC) in 2009 to create tools for teachers. The LDC tools have been implemented more than sixty-five districts in six states. Research on the LDC shows that the tools have been effective in improving instruction and learning.

Renee served as both a state consultant and district wide literacy specialist since the inception of LDC and the implementation of the Kentucky Core Academic Standards. In this role she has facilitated learning for teachers, provided instructional coaching, and is currently directing a 3-year research study in collaboration with the state of Colorado. Teachers in this Common Assignment Study are creating larger units of curricular study with embedded LDC tools and are finding the lessons created provide data that informs student growth in Kentucky’s Professional Growth and Effectiveness System.

Mickey and Renee began working together when she was the district literacy specialist and Mickey was one of the lead history teachers utilizing the LDC tools in his classroom in Fayette County. Last summer, Mickey joined the Common Assignment Research Study and is now one of the lead history teachers for Kentucky.

The webinar will take place on April 7, 2015 from 2-3 p.m. and is free to the public. To register, or submit questions online in advance of the webinar visit The Alliance for Excellent Education’s website at

The Fund for Transforming Education receives multi-year grant to expand its work with Kentucky teachers

Support comes from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

FRANKFORT, KY – The Fund for Transforming Education in Kentucky has received a multi-year grant from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to expand its existing programs designed to support Transforming the Teaching Profession in the Commonwealth and Next Generation Instructional Design.

Next Generation Instructional Design (NextGen ID) is a three-year initiative that examines the use of high-quality curriculum to accelerate the Kentucky State Academic Standards and their implementation. Working with a similar team from Colorado, The Fund coordinates efforts of over 60 educators in five Kentucky districts to:

  • Assess the impact of common assignments to support changes and improvements in classroom instruction;
  • Publish guidance on the uses of common assignments;
  • Create a set of exemplar units for use as common assignments across Kentucky; and
  • Develop a cohort of expert educators to lead the development of additional exemplars and respond to implementation challenges in their schools and districts.

This work is currently focused on English Language Arts and science in middle and high school. The expansion of this effort will create a statewide effort that will include teachers from all grade levels and subject areas.

The Transforming the Teaching Profession initiative is an effort led by teachers across the state who are seeking to transform their profession from a “job” or “career” into a “profession”. Along with partners at the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE), Hope Street Group and The Center for Teaching Quality, The Fund believes that Kentucky can become the model for professionalizing teaching. Through this initiative, we work to engage Kentucky teachers to design, execute and continuously improve policies, practices and the profession itself so that students reach their maximum potential.

With this latest grant expansion, The Fund will now be able to create the Kentucky Teacher Network – a place where all teachers can collaborate and share innovative practices and ideas. Currently, teachers are split among some 33 networks across the state, making their efforts fragmented. A greater collaboration will make their work more robust and effective.

The Fund’s Executive Director Barbara Bellissimo, is extremely optimistic about the opportunities that could come from these grant expansions.

“The expansion of these projects will mean great things for Kentucky teachers. For the past year or so we’ve had some really amazing teachers lend their time to these efforts and it’s a true testament to their work that we are now able to build on progress we’ve made to date and expand to new areas”, said Bellissimo.

“Innovation and collaboration are at the heart of everything we do at The Fund. I think the expansions of these two projects will give our teachers a unique opportunity to join the effort – ‘thinking differently about the way we teach and learn.’  I’m very proud of this work and can’t wait to see where it goes from here,” said Bellissimo.

The grant will be administered directly from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and will be spread out over a two-year time period.

Twenty-one Kentucky teachers named to Innovative Teacher Leader Cohort

Frankfort, KY – The Fund for Transforming Education in Kentucky has named twenty-one teachers to its new Innovative Teacher Leader Cohort. More than fifty applications were carefully reviewed by a selection committee. Twenty-one were ultimately chosen for their leadership ability in fostering a collaborative culture, promoting professional learning, and publicizing teaching and learning.

The group – whose main goal will be to promote teacher leadership across the Commonwealth – will first identify what it means to be a teacher leader, which for teachers sometimes means leading in informal ways while remaining in the classroom. They will also take into account the national standards for teacher leadership and research that may or may not support those standards.

The Fund’s Executive Director, Barbara Bellissimo believes this group will bring necessary cohesion and publicity to the work already happening around the idea of teacher leadership.

“I think there is an excellent opportunity here for this Innovative Teacher Leader Cohort to be a strong voice for the teacher leadership work that is happening across the state and to coordinate the efforts of various teacher leadership networks that are already in existence,” said Bellissimo. “It’s a tall order, but I’m confident we’ve chosen an outstanding group of educators to lead this effort.”

The group will hold quarterly in-person meetings at different locations across the state, the first being in Somerset this month.

Innovative Teacher Leader Cohort

Travis Marcum – Clark County Public Schools
Christopher McCurry – Fayette County Public Schools
Jan Horn – Clark County Public Schools
Marshall Murphy – Woodford County Public Schools
Jeff Sorce – Owensboro Public Schools
Angela Gunter – Daviess County Public Schools
Pennye Rogers – Todd County Schools
Angie Keaton – Magoffin County Schools
Emmanuel Anama – Harlan County Public Schools
Amanda Klare – Beechwood Independent School District
Tiffany Engels – Erlanger-Elsmere Independent School District
Taylor Clements – Jefferson County Public Schools
Ashley Lamb-Sinclair – Oldham County Schools
Azra Terzich – Jefferson County Public Schools
Abby Terranova – Jefferson County Public Schools
Khara Lewis – Madison County School District
Elizabeth Lovett – Knox County Public Schools
Joanna Stevens – Lincoln County Schools
Leah Turner – Wayne County Schools
Joseph Harris – Lawrence County Schools
Leslie Meeler-Bartow – Henderson County Schools 

Business and education leaders join forces at upcoming education summit

Frankfort, KY – Kentucky’s Commissioner of Education Dr. Terry Holiday, Lt. Governor Jerry Abramson and long-time education advocate and accomplished businessman Billy Harper of Harper Enterprises will join forces at The Fund for Transforming Education in Kentucky’s upcoming education summit in Louisville, Kentucky. The summit, titled Innovate: Education, will bring business and education leaders together on February 25, 2015 to discuss innovation in public education, brainstorm ideas to resolve issues blocking that innovation and to create commitments to turn those ideas into action.

The Fund’s Executive Director, Barbara Bellissimo, said the concept of bringing these two groups isn’t a new one, but certainly one that can’t be left out of the equation when attempting to create a truly innovative public education system.

“What we’re doing here – bringing together business and education – isn’t a new idea, but it is a critical one. We need educators to hear first-hand where the real gaps are in our workforce. And likewise, we need business leaders to understand there is more to being involved with the schools in their community than just writing a check. These two groups are partners in the Commonwealth’s education system and have been working together for many years,” said Bellissimo. “But we think it’s time to come together as one large group and create a set of attainable goals and commitments that we’re all willing to work together on throughout the year.”

In addition to some of Kentucky’s great educators like Eminence Independent Schools Superintendent Buddy Berry, attendees will hear from nonprofit sector expert and social enterprise pioneer Dan Pallotta at lunch about his extensive and successful background as a champion for charity, and his belief that we must change the way we think about changing the world. Pallotta himself is no stranger to innovation having created the multi-day charitable event industry with PallottaTeamworks’ AIDS Rides and Breast Cancer 3-Days. Pallotta’s presentation will draw on his extensive background as a champion for charity and he will share with the audience his belief that we must change the way we think about changing the world.

For more information about Innovate: Education, please visit

Nonprofit sector expert and social enterprise pioneer, Dan Pallotta, makes first-ever Kentucky appearance at Innovate: Education

Frankfort, KY – Dan Pallotta, nonprofit sector expert, social enterprise pioneer and charity defender, will be making his first-ever appearance in Kentucky on February 25, 2015 at The Fund for Transforming Education in Kentucky’s education summit in Louisville, Kentucky.

The summit, titled Innovate: Education, will bring business and education leaders together to discuss innovation in public education, brainstorm ideas to resolve issues blocking that innovation and to create commitments to turn those ideas into action. Pallotta, who is well-known for his iconic TED talk which has received more than 3.2 million views (among the top 50 most-viewed TED talks of all time), will deliver the luncheon keynote. Pallotta himself is no stranger to innovation having created the multi-day charitable event industry with PallottaTeamworks’ AIDS Rides and Breast Cancer 3-Days. These events altered the landscape of options for ordinary individuals seeking to make an extraordinary difference. Pallotta is also founder and President of Advertising for Humanity ( and the Charity Defense Council (

Pallotta’s presentation draws on his extensive and successful background as a champion for charity. He will share with the audience his belief that we must change the way we think about changing the world.

“We are absolutely thrilled to have Dan at this year’s summit. He’s a brilliant public speaker with a background and style that’s truly inspirational. I’m confident he’ll provide just the right spark to motivate us all to collaborate on ways to reinvigorate public education,” said Barbara Bellissimo, Executive Director for The Fund.

For more information about Innovate: Education, visit

About The Fund:

The Fund for Transforming Education in Kentucky (The Fund) inspires and scales innovation and excellence in Kentucky’s public schools, resulting in a better future for all of our children. In addition to the Innovation Initiative, The Fund leads cross-functional teams in Kentucky and nationally to create common units of study for teachers and to transform the teaching profession. For more information about The Fund, please visit