What Academy Coach Heather Zoll Eppley Wants You to Know About the Academies of Bryan Station High School

When you walk into the Academies of Bryan Station High School, what you see and hear on campus may surprise you. As a wall-to-wall Academy school, Bryan Station offers students a high school experience that’s unique to their own personal interests and career aspirations. You may discover culinary students busy prepping and cooking meals in the Defender Café, learning everything from seasoning techniques to menu planning. Or, you may stumble upon engineering students coding and operating robots—or even see pre-nursing students practicing medical procedures on patient dummies.

These types of hands-on, work-based learning opportunities not only prepare Academy students for life outside of high school—they inspire and engage them. For example, research shows that when students focus on a particular field of interest in education, they are more likely to stay in school.  And, in addition to Academies having positive impacts on high school students’ motivation, graduation rates, postsecondary enrollment, and career outcomes—they make learning more relevant and fun.

Bryan Station High School Academy Coach Heather Zoll Eppley recently sat down with us to discuss how Academies are revolutionizing what public high school education can be in our city. From preparing students to be successful in the 21st Century economy, to uniting schools within the community—the Academies of Lexington movement is a catalyst for real and powerful change in education.

Here’s what Heather, who’s been in education for more than 12 years, had to say:

Q: Why do you so strongly support Academy-style education in Lexington?  

A: I truly believe that the academy model makes a difference for students. Through my previous work with the IT Academy, I have seen students thrive, explore, and grow in a way that I haven’t seen in the traditional high school model. It makes real-world connections and provides wraparound support for students in such a powerful way. 

Q: How do Academies enhance collegiate and workforce performance?

A: The great part about Academies is that they allow students to explore career and college opportunities in a safe space. We all know that it takes hard work and practice to be great at something, so it only makes sense to allow our students to learn in that way, as they prepare for both career and college. 

Q: How do Academies connect academics with real-world careers?

A: Our Academies are approaching teaching and learning in a different way. The goal is to use the skills and knowledge from the academic side, and apply it to real-world problems that business professionals encounter every day. Our business partners are playing a pivotal role in making this type of hands-on learning a reality!

Q: What has the response been from parents, students and the community so far?

A: Our community has been very receptive to the transition to wall-to-wall Academies. I have had so many former students and parents say that they wish it would have happened sooner so they could experience it!

Q: How can the community get involved in the Academies of Lexington?

A: There are so many ways to get involved that range from short-term to long-term commitments—all of which would make a huge impact on students. I would love to connect with anyone who would like to work with our students. If that is something that would be of interest to you, please email me directly at Heather.Eppley@fayette.kyschools.us, or call me at 859.381.3308, ex. 2012.

 To learn more about how the Academies of Lexington are helping students discover and prepare for their futures, visit our website at academiesoflex.com. You can also explore Bryan Station High School’s various Academies and Pathways here.

We hope that you will continue to follow us as we share the incredible impacts the Academies of Lexington are having on our community.