Does your student fit Fayette’s ‘Portrait of a Graduate’?

Graphic from the website
Graphic from the website

Local schools launch new initiative ‘to redefine what education means in an ever-evolving world’

The Fayette County School System has launched the Portrait of a Graduate initiative, a new national project with the aim of identifying the critical skills and competencies necessary for the county’s graduates to live quality lives, have successful careers, and compete in a global world. The project is expected to be complete later in the year.

Fayette County School System spokesperson Melinda Berry-Dreisbach said the project is a national effort to redefine what education means in an ever-evolving world. It is customized according to each community’s hopes and dreams for the coming generations.

When completed later this year, Fayette County will have its own unique Portrait of a Graduate that will be used to strategically align curriculum and support services to ensure that all students possess vital skills needed for success upon graduation. Fayette County is already one of the top school systems in the state, producing graduates who go on to have success in postsecondary education and careers. Planning such as this will help ensure that the county’s graduates and school system continue to succeed, Berry-Dreisbach said.

The Portrait of a Graduate initiative is a collective vision that articulates a community’s aspirations for their students. And it is a community-owned picture of what skills and competencies graduates need for success, school system staff said.

Each school system involved in the initiative develops its own vision specific to its community, said staff.

The first part of the process included a survey of key stakeholders, including the community. The survey that ended in July had nearly 1,300 participants from across Fayette County. The survey asked opinions on the biggest changes in society in the past 25-30 years, and the skills and various competencies needed by students.

“Gathering our collective wisdom will be the most important effort to reshape our aspirations for graduates that our community has undertaken in decades,” said Superintendent Jody Barrow. ”Our school system is among some of the top schools in the nation that are engaging in similar processes. Portrait of a Graduate has the potential to significantly enhance how we educate our young people.”

The process begins with the school system’s vision and mission. The vision notes that Fayette students will be capable of living and working effectively, responsibly and productively in a global environment. The mission is to forge and equip students to confidently face challenges, embrace opportunities and positively-impact the world.

A question asked at the project’s outset deals with two hypothetical students. Which student will be best prepared to contribute and compete in a global economy? One student possess skills and knowledge in math, science, English and social studies. The other student possess skills and knowledge in content mastery in core subject areas, along with critical thinking, collaboration, communication and creativity.

The answer, said Innovative Business Partnerships, Work-based Learning and Youth Apprenticeship Coordinator Virginia Gibbs, is student B.

“The Fayette County product that we ultimately adopt will be unique and special for our own community,” said Gibbs.

Noting how the project occurs, Gibbs said it involves a cross-section of the community. School system representatives will talk with students, parents and teachers, school and district leaders, faith and business leaders, higher education members, social service agencies and business leaders.

“That cross-section will enable the community to come together to articulate what the county Portrait of a Graduate looks like,” said Gibbs.

Next steps in the project include:

• Plan – build an understanding of the project, create a design team and define the timeline

• Engage – convene the design team and discuss implications and capture input from stakeholders

• Create – draft and revise prioritized competencies and draft and revise visuals

• Adopt – submit to the school board in the fall and implement as the “North Star” to assist in various aspect of decision-making in funding, priorities and projects

• Refine – review and revise as warranted

Portrait of a Graduate is a project of Battelle for Kids.

“The Portrait of a Graduate is the first step in framing a new vision for your school system. Locally developed, but globally positioned, the Portrait serves as a North Star for system transformation,” according to

The “21 by 2021 Movement” envisioned by Portrait of a Graduate aims to have 21 percent of schools systems nationwide engaged in the movement by 2021, according to

Once you create your Portrait, taking this vision to scale requires a thorough analysis of the entire school system to make 21st century learning a reality for every student,” the Portrait website said.

More information about the project can be found at the website (

Battelle for Kids is a project of the Battelle Memorial Institute, founded in 1923 and headquartered in Columbus, Ohio. The institute was founded with an endowment from the estate of steel industrialist Gordon Battelle. The institute’s mission is to develop practical applications for scientific research, according to

According to, “Battelle Memorial Institute, Inc. operates as a science and technology company that develops and commercializes technology in the United States. The company develops technology in the areas of energy, health and life sciences, national security and defense, laboratory management, and community and education. It also offers solutions for advanced materials, agrifood, consumer products, economic development, environment, industrial products, medical devices, pharmaceutical and biotechnology, public health and transportation sectors, as well as manages laboratories for customers. In addition, the company conducts independent safety audits and assessments of train control/signaling systems and equipment for transit, freight, and high-speed rail applications. It serves federal, state, and local government agencies, as well as corporations and private sector customers. Battelle Memorial Institute, Inc. has strategic alliances with Discovery Laboratories, Inc.; The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research; and The Xerox Research Centre Canada. The company was founded in 1923 and is headquartered in Columbus, Ohio with additional operations in the United Kingdom and internationally.”