Advanced Learning at IALR is accomplished by an approach that supports talent development from childhood through employment.  Dr.  Julie Brown, IALR’s Director of Advanced Learning maneuvers a myriad of partner organizations to ensure a collaborative approach that supports a regional advanced learning strategy.  This involves inspiring, developing, credentialing and supporting learning opportunities within the region.  

Inspiring a region to invest in workforce development does not start on the shop floor of a business or industry - it starts by transitioning a region’s appreciation and desire for these opportunities.  It requires collaboration with many organizations in the region’s footprint.  This is evident in IALR’s partnerships for the Career Choice Expo to inspire students at an early age and developing STEM interest with camps, field trips and a STEM Summit that provides educational workshops and exploratory sessions.  Advanced Learning is traveling the region in a mobile Inspiration Lab to inspire students by exposure to drones, 3D Printing and computer gaming.  

Development of a strong advanced learning strategy requires creative professional development opportunities.  This can be seen in IALR’s work with CodeVA and the computer science professional development programs for the region.  It is also evident in the EXCITE Program – Exploring Careers through Industry Teacher Externships – a weeklong immersion experience for teachers into industry environments.

Strengthening work skills involves a strong credentialing program for the region that is respected and leads to higher wages and opportunities.  Dr.  Brown has worked to develop partnerships like the Dan River Region Collaborative to support initiatives such as ACT’s Certified Work Ready Community and the National Career Ready Certification program that has spread across the southern portions of Virginia.  IALR also works with the Healthcare Collaborative to support training for community health workers, a new certified position in Virginia.  Another effort involves analysis of apprenticeship models for the region, assessing industry need and replicating national and international programs of excellence.

The IALR team considers strong leadership to support advanced learning, service and career opportunities a priority.  It can be seen in support of the public school systems in the region by hosting the Piedmont Governor’s School for Math, Science and Technology and the Academy for Engineering and Technology.  It is also evident in the Lifelong Learning Classes in computer training and in IALR internships in industries as well as scholarships for STEM students across the service region.  IALR also works to weave in opportunities for service learning through the Dan River Year AmeriCorps program and understanding the importance of community engagement to the region’s advanced learning strategy.  The IALR Advanced Learning team recognizes their critical responsibility in partnering with you to elevate the region.  

Photo: Dr. Julie Brown showing the passion required to implement Advanced Learning with Virginia Secretary of Education Atif Qarni and IALR Executive Director Mark Gignac

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