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Academies of Central Arkansas hosts Career Expo

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (November 2, 2022) – The Academies of Central Arkansas held their first in-person career exploration event at the Statehouse Convention Center showcasing more than 85 local businesses to all freshmen enrolled in Little Rock School District, Pulaski County Special School District, North Little Rock School District, and Jacksonville North Pulaski School District. The Academies of Central Arkansas is an initiative of the Little Rock Regional Chamber and utilizes the Ford Next Generation Learning (Ford NGL) model of teaching and learning. Currently, all four public school districts have begun implementation of the wall-to-wall academy model within their high schools and career exploration is a key component of the ninth-grade experience.

The Academies of Central Arkansas model transforms the public high school experience by blending core academics with career and technical education. The model ensures scholars are ready for college, a career, and to be life-long learners, by creating many guaranteed experiences for students to explore future careers. The career exploration event is one of those experiences that will be held annually and allows freshmen students to engage with representatives from the more than 85 business in attendance. Students learn more about careers at their organizations, what skills and education are necessary to secure those employment opportunities in the future and to provide them with hands-on experience while visiting employer’s booths. Sectors represented at this year’s career fair include advanced manufacturing, engineering, public and community service, construction and architecture, transportation, health care, hospitality, business finance, information technology and computer science, and arts, media, and design. The scholars will use this information to assist them in picking an academy pathway of study that piques their interest and unique skill sets, creating a rigorous and relevant learning experience for the remainder of their high school studies.

Jay Chesshir, President & CEO of the Little Rock Regional Chamber said, “We know that when students can make informed decisions about the academic opportunities in front of them and when we pair those choices with engaging curriculum that is aligned with their future post-secondary and professional aspirations, we start to see meaningful outcomes that move the needle for our students, our employers, and our communities. Our school leaders and business leaders have come together to ensure that students have access to the all the necessary resources to truly transform the learning experience in our high schools.”

Participation in the career exploration event is just one of the many ways employers can engage with students and schools as part of the Academy of Central Arkansas model. Business leaders agree to engage more deeply with schools that they partner with by providing their time and talent to the scholars within those schools. This individualized engagement is tailored to meet the needs and abilities of the school community, the students, and the business partner. Partner agreements lead to guaranteed experiences for students such as industry field trips, guest speakers, mock interviews, mentorship, internship or externships, and opportunities to earn industry recognized credentials and college credits while enrolled in one of the public high schools in Pulaski County.

If businesses are interested in learning more about partnering with the Academies of Central Arkansas, they can learn more by visiting or by contacting the Little Rock Regional Chamber.

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If you have questions about how the chamber can help your business or how you can get involved in growing our regional economy, drop us a line.