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Ignite Institute and the Academies

Ignite Institute and the Academies


 Ignite Institute at Roebling Innovation Center 

 Ignite Institute at Roebling Innovation Center
37 Atlantic Avenue, Erlanger, KY 41018

Toyota has donated its Quality & Production Engineering Laboratory facility in Erlanger, Kentucky, to createIgnite Building the Ignite Institute at Roebling Innovation Center, a new STEAM-based education center to serve the Northern Kentucky/Greater Cincinnati region. Ignite Institute will focus on project-based learning in science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics, with real industry-case methodology, honing passion and direction for careers.  It will include the best aspects of innovative schools around the country.

Ignite Institute will feature large open classrooms; project spaces with flexible seating; collaborative spaces; glass-walled small meeting areas and study rooms; an open cafeteria; art and video production areas; robotic and automation labs; makerspaces; fabrication and arts labs; a health sciences area; manufacturing and logistics education areas; a black box theatre, and a teacher-training center.

Admission will not be based on GPA, but on a student’s desire to learn the unique skills required for 21st century employment. There will be a formal application process on a first come, first served basis. The goal is to make attendance available for any interested student.

Ignite Institute is on pace to welcome up to 1,000 students beginning in the 2019-2020 school year. The Institute will welcome students in grades 9-12 in the very first year.

The school will use a performance-based model in which students can move through high school and college level work at their own pace and path. Students will still receive high school and college credits according to their achievement.

 The school will appeal to students who prefer project-based, hands-on, collaborative education.  Programs will focus on problem solving, teamwork, and non-traditional approaches to learning.

  While the school will not have a traditional football or band programs at this time, there will be numerous extracurricular activities. The goal is for all students to be involved in at least one extracurricular activity.  Students may also participate in activities at their home school.

Why Ignite Institute?


A “care first then teach” approach empowers students to go beyond traditional textbook learning. Grades are only part of the equation; success is measured based on individual needs, learning style, and potential.


Scholars learn across disciplines blending career courses with core academic learnings. Meanwhile, regular interaction with industry leaders offers a glimpse into opportunities beyond graduation.


Whether they’re studying soil samples, learning a language or fabricating machines to power the Internet of Things, scholars spend their days preparing to meet the challenges of our ever-changing world.


Ignite Institute is an innovative learning community where scholars explore next-generation subjects of science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics.

Unlocking minds. Fueling imagination. Elevating opportunity.



Scholar-focused programs rich in the next-generation STEAM subjects of science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics.


Cross-disciplinary curriculum developed in collaboration with top NKY and Greater Cincinnati business leaders.

Seven Colleges of Innovation

7 Colleges

“Care First, Then Teach”

It’s easy to be swept away by the ever-increasing demands in education. Declining budgets and increased curricular expectations cultivate an environment where teachers are forced to focus on producing more with fewer resources. This pressure can be overwhelming and may result in a stressed-out teacher who has little time and energy to focus on anything but content. Our philosophy, “Care first, then teach”, stems from watching the scenario above evolve time after time. Even the best of teachers can get caught in the content-only mentality, losing sight of why they entered the profession of education. The Ignite Institute uses the “Care first, then teach” motto so we all may be reminded that caring is more important than teaching.

CARETo appreciate our scholars and connect to them in a meaningful way, we must understand them. Jean Twenge (2017) researched the current generation of students, specifically those who were born 1995-2012. These students are the first generation to spend their entire life with technology and may spend 5-6 hours daily on a device texting, gaming, chatting, web surfing, and hanging out online. Online content is creating unrealistic expectations about happiness and body image, among other things, and provides more opportunities to feel left out. These interactions and prolonged exposure are making teens lonelier, more anxious, more depressed, and are even increasing instances of cyberbullying and teen suicides.

As educators, we must strive to address these generational needs. Our schools must be a place of understanding and compassion. Students should feel loved, supported, and that their school is a safe place where they can be themselves. By making scholars feel they are part of our family, we are teaching them that in-person relationships are important and that they are valued as individuals. Most importantly, they discover their ability to be great and become even more willing to learn in order to reach their goals.

Instead of focusing on data, we focus on the individual. We have learned, through our experience of caring first, that test scores will take care of themselves as long as the scholars have teachers who believe in them. More importantly, our scholars know they have an adult advocate who is supportive and will look out for their best interests.

Twenge, J. (2017). iGen: Why today’s super-connected kids are growing up less rebellious, more tolerant, less happy— and completely unprepared for adulthood—and what that means for the rest of us. New York, NY: Atria Books.

Business Integration

The Ignite Institute will offer scholars a truly unique school experience because of the exposure scholars will get to regional businesses. One of the core promises that was made to Toyota when the school building was donated was that the Ignite Institute would serve to prepare a pipeline of trained, competent workers to the region. To fulfill this promise, the Ignite Institute has developed a unique structure to maximize business integration alongside academic achievement.

Every week, scholars have two “production days” where the school schedule at the Ignite Institute gives scholars and teachers flexibility to collaborate with business and industry partners. On these days, regional companies will have their opportunity to work with Ignite Institute scholars. The business partners can customize the manner in which they want to work with scholars, but these interactions will generally fall under one of three categories: business mentorship, real-world projects, and workforce training.Toyota

Business Mentorship: The Ignite Institute will always engage local industry to discuss their current workforce needs while inviting businesses in to be a part of the training. This mentorship from companies will be invaluable to Ignite scholars. The business may choose the topics in which they mentor, but these options may include earning industry certifications, skills training, career planning, and many more.

Real-World Projects: Regional industry members will be able to work with our scholars to create real solutions to real problems that those companies face. The Ignite Institute has created the twiceweekly structure to allow sufficient time for scholars and industry partners to work together on real projects that the companies need completed. These real-world experiences give scholars the opportunity to apply their knowledge and critical thinking skills to genuine problems that need to be solved. Depending upon the nature of the project, local businesses may come to the school to continuously work with the scholars, check in occasionally to see what the scholars have created, or facilitate digital meetings with scholars.

Workforce Training: Further business integration will happen towards the end of a scholar’s time at the Ignite Institute. The schedule for seniors at the Ignite Institute is flexible and will be designed individually to personalize the senior year experience for the needs of the scholar. One important component of the senior year is the academic internship. Scholars will have the opportunity to become interns at regional companies to gain valuable insight and experience into their future career. Before high school graduation, each scholar will have the opportunity to spend 400+ hours with regional companies learning on-the-job skills. This is a key element of the workforce pipeline for the region, as our high school scholars will begin networking with local businesses.

General Ignite Philosophy

Each college uses a motivational teaching method where the lines between “technical” and “academic” are deliberately blurred. All scholars will use technology to research, produce, and present across disciplines. Much of the class work is project-based and incorporates real-world application.

Curriculum Integration

Real world issues are integrated into Ignite Institute curricula by working in teams, and by studying real questions and themEngineering Team Problem Solvinges that cut across academic disciplines. Teachers collaborate within a college to develop coherent programs by intersecting their curricula wherever possible. Each college offers four core courses, a world language course, and a career course that are taught with an emphasis and “flavor” of the career course. Each core content class covers the same curriculum as the core content classes taught at a traditional high school. However, the Ignite Institute core content classes are unique because they are taught by integrating the topics taught in the career class.



What is offered in each Ignite Institute college?

The Ignite Institute colleges offer scholars the opportunity to earn the same credits required for graduation as their home high school. Scholars have seven different colleges in which to apply. Scholars will attend their specific college at the Ignite Institute for the whole day while taking classes in the following areas: Career, English, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, and World Language. The available colleges for the 2019-20 school year are Allied Health, Biomedical Sciences, Computer Science, Design, Education, Engineering, and Women’s Engineering. Starting in the 2020-21 school year, Construction and Logistics colleges will be available.

Ignite Institute classes are different The Ignite Institute philosophy is that small, personalized learning makes the high school experience motivating. Each college consists of six to seven highly skilled teachers collaborating to intersect their respective disciplines. Each area of concentration is equally important in the scholars’ overall educational experience. We believe in the value of authentic teaching using hands-on project-based, inquiry-based, and performance-based education. This method provides scholars a high-quality broad-based education that will serve them well in all phases of life.

Who can join the Ignite Institute?

The Ignite Institute at Roebling Innovation Center has scholars that range from 9th grade to 12th grade. Scholars from any regional public high school may apply. We encourage scholars with interests in the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) discipEngineering Roller Coasterslines to apply.

The Ignite Institute Report Card is different

Parents have the opportunity to discuss their scholars’ progress with their teachers during parentteacher conferences. We want each scholar to work towards a “School to Career” thought process. Our scholars learn what professionals refer to as “soft skills” as the Ignite Institute sees them as “essential skills” that are part of the learning process.

In addition to the content within each course, Ignite Institute Scholars also learn from our CARE philosophy that includes lessons centered around:

                                    C- Communication

                                A- Accountability

                                R- Research

                                E- Essential Skills

What are the requirements for joining the Ignite Institute?

Scholars are selected based on their willingness to work hard and their interest in a particular career field. There is no specific GPA requirement to be accepted to the Ignite Institute. Scholars are admitted on a “first come, first serve” basis and will be considered based on availability. Interested scholars are encouraged to apply as soon as possible because of limited space in each college.

Ignite Institute colleges are year-long programs

It is important for parents and scholars to know that the Ignite Institute is a year-long program. While we cover all the content that is included in core classes at the home high schools, we add components such as research and working with professionals in their chosen career field.

Scholars scheduled for Ignite Institute classes are encouraged to remain for the entire year. Our classes are taught year-long, and students benefit the most from our classes if they are allowed to develop their skills over this time. If a scholar wishes to end their time at the Ignite Institute, we encourage them to do so at the end of the school year, in which case we work with the scholar to ensure they are enrolled at their home high school full time.

If a scholar schedules out of Ignite Institute classes, their position in that college will be forfeited, and their spot will be given to a scholar on the waiting list. If a scholar chooses to attend a college at the Ignite Institute, they are not required to attend that college their entire high school career. The purpose of the Ignite Institute is to help scholars explore different career fields. If they find they are not interested in the career of the college they choose, they are encouraged to finish the school year in their current college. After that year, they are able to join a different college (depending on availability) or return to their home high school.

Can a scholar attend the Ignite Institute and play sports or participate in extracurricular activities?

Absolutely! The colleges at the Ignite Institute are designed to enrich the scholar’s high school experience! Our structure allows all scholars to participate in activities at their home high school. Because all Ignite Institute classes and travel are done during the school day, scholars are back at their home high school before the final bell rings dismissing scholars for the day. They can participate in extracurricular activities of their choice at their home high schools.

Will taking online courses affect my NCAA eligibility?

The Ignite Institute along with some of our feeder districts use Edgenuity curriculum for some online courses. Edgenuity courses and curriculum are developed by highly qualified teachers. Edgenuity courses allow us to personalize scholars’ Individual Learning Plans based on their needs. However, a highly qualified teacher that is certified in that content area must work closely with the scholars during at least 50% of the course for that course to be approved by the Biomed discovering DNANCAA. If a scholar plans to play Division I or Division II sports in college, the scholar’s transcript must reflect 16 credits of core academic courses approved by the NCAA. If you are a scholar athlete, please consult with your school counselor in planning your coursework each year in your Individual Learning Plan, especially if you are considering doing any online coursework. Each year, a counselor at your high school submits the courses taught requesting approval from the NCAA. Your school counselor will know which courses are approved at your school.

How can the Ignite Institute help me make connections to professionals in college and career?

Each year, scholars at the Ignite Institute complete a comprehensive semester-long or year-long project. This requires the application of the knowledge scholars learn in their core and career classes into a real-world situation. These projects are then presented in front of a panel of professionals in the scholars’ field of interest, as well as local college and university professionals. These professionals have the opportunity to ask the scholars in-depth questions and provide feedback and guidance for their project(s) in the future. Additionally, during a scholar’s senior year, these professionals may offer opportunities for an academic internship.

Is graduation different for scholars in the Ignite Institute?

No. Ignite Institute scholars will receive their diploma from their home high school and will attend graduation ceremonies with the traditional scholars at that school.


Boone County scholars and Kenton County scholars can ride a bus to the Ignite Institute from their home high schools in the morning and then back to their home high school in the afternoon. Other participating regional schools and districts will provide a transportation plan for their scholars who wish to apply. Scholars may also buy an Ignite Institute parking pass and drive themselves to and from school.

What does a typical day at the Ignite Institute look like?*

The Ignite Institute schedule is designed to allow scholars, teachers, and business partners maximum flexibility in providing the best education possible for the scholars. The weekly schedule structure provides three core curriculum days (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) and two production days (Tuesday, Thursday).

1st rotation        8:15 am - 9:55 am

2nd rotation       9:55 am - 11:35 am

Lunch                 11:35 am - 12:25 pm

3rd rotation        12:25 pm - 2:05 pm

Core Curriculum Days (Mon/Wed/Fri) On core curriculum days the school day is split into three rotations (schedule below). During each of those rotations, two teachers and their classes in each college will be working together to teach the content for their respective classes. Teachers have the flexibility to team-teach, co-teach, or teach individually to their classes during this time. The same two teachers will work together all day long as their classes cycle through each rotation. The teacher pairings in each college will be math & science, english & social studies, and career elective & world language. The teachers will be instructing in such a way to allow scholars to see the connections between their paired class as well as how their class connects to the career pathway in their college. On these days teachers will also be implementing CARE lessons to develop “essential skills” for scholars.

Production Days (Tue/Thu)

On production days there is more flexibility given to teachers and scholars within their three rotations. The teachers and scholars will come up with a plan on how to most effectively use these two days to ensure scholars success. Teachers can do remediation for necessary scholars on these days or continue to provide instruction on their content. Scholars, teachers, and business partners will also be able to hold research meetings for their year-long projects, hold business meetings with their professional mentors, and participate in other essential skill development curriculum. Finally, production days will also be used to work on college classes or graduation electives, if necessary.




Click on the link below to apply today!


Ignite Applications


How do I apply? Anyone wishing to be an Ignite scholar must fill out an application. Scholars can do this using the following application link:


For more information on the Ignite Institute, or to schedule a tour, please contact any of the following by email:

Dr. Julie Whitis, Principal                                                 julie.whitis@kenton.kyschools.us

Mr. Jerry Gels, Principal                                                  jerome.gels@boone.kyschools.us

Mr. Brian Noll, Dean of Academic Affairs                        brian.noll@kenton.kyschools.us

Mr. Don Black, Instructional Coach                                 don.black@boone.kyschools.us

Ms. Amanda Knochelmann, Career Counselor              amanda.knochelmann@kenton.kyschools.us


Seven Colleges of Innovation


Allied Health

A general pathway in health services occupations that prepares scholars for either entry into specialized training pathways or for a variety of concentrations in the allied health area. Includes instruction in the basic sciences, research and clinical procedures, and aspects of the subject matter related to various health occupations. Students will gain necessary skills for successful employment in Allied Health fields or continuing education for an Allied Health career.


Biomedical Sciences

The courses are designed to give scholars the requisite skills to pursue a career in the field of biomedical sciences. Scholar work involves the study of human medicine, research processes, and an introduction to bioinformatics. Scholars investigate the human body systems and various health conditions including: heart disease, diabetes, sickle-cell disease, hypercholesterolemia, and infectious diseases. Scholars design innovative solutions for the health challenges of the 21st century.


Computer Science

These courses will empower students to develop computational thinking skills while building confidence in their technological capabilities. Scholars use Python® as a primary tool, while they explore and become inspired by career paths that utilize computing, discover tools that foster creativity and collaboration, and use what they’ve learned to tackle challenges like app development and simulation. Scholars collaborate to create original solutions to problems of their own choosing by designing and implementing user interfaces and Web-based databases, as well as creating a game for their friends or an app to serve a real need in the their community.


Scholars will be designing media arts experiences and products, including techniques, genres and styles from various and combined media and forms, including moving image, sound, interactive, spatial and/or interactive design. These courses will expose scholars to the materials, processes, and artistic techniques involved in creating video productions. Scholars learn about the operation of cameras, lighting techniques, camera angles, depth of field, composition, storyboarding, sound capture and editing techniques.



The Education Pathway is designed to immerse scholars in the field of education by exploring careers in counseling, teaching, administration, and other support roles in the school system. Scholars will engage in activities designed to uncover their abilities and interests in becoming an educational professional. The courses helps scholars understand how today’s scholars learn. Topics include, but are not limited to: child psychology, lifespan and developmental psychology, multiple intelligences, and Bloom’s Taxonomy. The courses also explore teaching techniques and strategies as they apply to 21st century inquiry-based learning.



The courses teach problem-solving skills by engaging scholars in the engineering process. Models of product solutions are created, analyzed, and communicated in a variety of ways including the use of solid modeling computer design software. In addition, scholars use 3D design software to design and document solutions for major course projects. Exploring various technology systems and manufacturing processes help scholars learn how engineers and technicians use an engineering problem solving process to benefit society.


Women’s Engineering

This pathway is specifically designed to address a female shortage in the engineering workforce. The courses teach problem-solving skills by engaging scholars in the engineering process. Models of product solutions are created, analyzed, and communicated in a variety of ways including the use of solid modeling computer design software. In addition, scholars use 3D design software to design and document solutions for major course projects. Exploring various technology systems and manufacturing processes help scholars learn how engineers and technicians use an engineering problem solving process to benefit society

Coming 2020-21






After-School College Program

After-school college is a program offered to sophomore and junior scholars. They are given the opportunity to take dual-credit college classes after school from 2:15 - 3:30. These courses have been chosen to count for high school graduation requirements and/or qualify as general elective credits for any university the scholar might attend in the future. Courses end at 3:30. Scholars are responsible for their transportation home from their after school college courses.


Academic Internship Program

WHAT…is an academic internship? An academic internship is a type of “work-based learning experience program” for high school scholars who have completed extensive school-based preparation relating to an identified area of career and academic interest. To participate in an academic internship a scholar must be invited by a mentor/business. The internship can vary in length and could lead to course credit if all criteria are met.

WHO…is involved? Junior and senior scholars (mostly seniors), teachers, business and industry partners, and advisory board members.

WHEN…is this going to take place? An academic internship may be a component of a scholar’s schedule during their high school career. The scholar may also receive high school credit for the academic internship, and the amount of credit to be awarded will be determined by the school according to the goals, skills, and learning experiences during the internship.

WHERE…is this going to take place? The academic internship will take place at the training site of the mentor. The scholar will begin an academic internship only after being invited by the mentor.

WHY…is this important? Academic internships give scholars opportunities to explore careers via workplace learning experiences and to benefit from interdisciplinary-based education. Scholars have opportunities to learn about the world of work and to develop useful skills and attitudes.

HOW…to get started? The scholar must be invited by a mentor to participate in an academic internship, and the Academic Internship Coordinator will help to facilitate this for the mentor and the scholar. If a scholar wants a specific internship, they should talk to Chris Bryson for assistance in seeking out the internship.

All academic internships will be designed on an individual basis to meet the needs of each scholar.

For questions about the Academic Internship Program, contact Chris Bryson, Internship Coordinator, at 859-341-2266 or chris.bryson@kenton.kyschools.us