Kentucky State University and Hope Street formally announced their partnership in the creation of the Opportunity Access Network Feb. 15 on the University campus.

Kentucky State University President M. Christopher Brown II said the partnership will transform teacher education and student learning in the district, the region and the Commonwealth.

“We need evidence-based instruction, based on research and best practices, to make sure we get great outcomes,” President Brown said. “We hope that today is the beginning of making sure that our schools in the Commonwealth are good enough to get our parent’s children wherever they want to go.”

Dr. Houston Barber, superintendent of Frankfort Independent Schools, said that Hope Street Group and Kentucky State have ignited something that will transcend how we train our teachers and prepare students.

“This will impact and empower every educator in the state,” Barber said. “This significant partnership will reach all the way down to the desks of our students.”

Barber predicted long-term outcomes of the partnership will be transformative.

“Ten years from now, and faster than that, you will see a new design of what education looks like across Kentucky,” Barber said. “Our children, although we are making great strides, will not be able to just read, write and effectively communicate, but they will be able to go into the workforce and change the game and impact policy in their own significant ways.”

Dan Cruce, vice president of education for Hope Street Group, said the partnership is the first of its kind for Hope Street Group.

“We are looking at this partnership as one in which we are going to build new doors. We’re going to open new doors. We’re going to kick some doors down,” Cruce said. “Our needs are not unique when we talk about how to attract, support and retain great professionals.”

Dr. Jo Anne Rainey, chair of the School of Education, said the goals of the Opportunity Access Network are to diversify the workforce of Kentucky and beyond, notably the teaching workforce; to create practitioner/decision-maker feedback loops that improve systems at the local, regional, state and national levels; and to bridge education and workforce priorities to create opportunity and access for P-20 students and educators throughout the Commonwealth.

“We expect this partnership will lead to shifts in Kentucky State program and course curricula to reflect more innovative educational and communication practices, which will make courses more current, relevant and engaging,” Rainey said. “Relevant and engaging courses attract capable students, increase retention, foster program completion, promote graduation and prepare individuals for successful employment.”