School Board finalizes vision for long awaited tech academy
On Feb. 11, the Loudoun County School Board approved a vision and preliminary plan for the long awaited technology-based academy.
The Academies of Loudoun – formerly referred to as Loudoun Advanced Technology Academy – will house three different disciplines in the same building.
Included will be the Academy of Science, Monroe Advanced Technology Academy and the Academy of Engineering and Technology.
The Academy of Science will be similar to the county's current academy at Dominion High School, housing extensive science courses as part of a four-year program for its students.
MATA will be much like the current Monroe Technology Center, offering career training in vocational fields such as welding, culinary arts, construction and much more.
The Academy of Engineering and Technology, which is a new venture for the county, will specialize in providing coursework in bio-mechanics, robotics, bioengineering and cyber-security.
Shirley Bazdar, LCPS director of Career, Technical and Adult Education explained the new venture during her briefing to the School Board.
“This is the new opportunity for students who have an interest in engineering and information technology programs,” Bazdar said. “Increased opportunities for dual-enrollment, online and distance learning coursework will really serve to benefit our accelerated learners.”
The building, which will be located on a parcel of land already owned by the school system off of Sycolin Road, will serve students as well as the community. It will educate approximately 10 percent of the LCPS high school population.
According to public documents, the mission of the Academies is to provide a center for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics education and career readiness that creates opportunities for the Loudoun community to innovate, explore, research and collaborate.
The facility will be used nearly around the clock, beyond regular school hours and throughout the year. The Academies of Loudoun will be a hub for online courses, offering expanded courses to high school students within LCPS. In addition, it will serve as an incubator for future course development, teacher professional development and innovative instructional practices that could be implemented division-wide or nationally.
Bazdar also pointed out the building will be a certified testing facility for community use.
“This site will be a Pearson VUE test site so that can be an opportunity for community members to come and take certified exams and tests,” Bazdar said. “It will also serve as a source of revenue for this center. So we see that opportunity as in the community for adults as well.”
School Board member Bill Fox (Leesburg) explained the benefit of having a facility like this for the county moving forward.
“This has gone from what I felt was a very admirable project, which was to combine and expand the programs of the Academies of Science and the Monroe Technology Center, to something that is just extraordinary, and I think it has the potential to literally change the character of education throughout Loudoun County, and I am very, very excited about this.”
Fox continued, “This is the type of thing that needs to happen in order for Loudoun County to remain one of the more premier school systems in the country.”