Academy Coach Shawn Hinds Explains Why Douglass is Doing Education Differently

Students on a TV setSince launching this fall, there’s been a lot of excitement about what the Academies of Lexington are doing for public education in our city. From providing students with more relevant, engaging learning experiences to empowering educators to transform teaching—the initiative is inspiring students, teachers, families and the community to take a closer look at education.

As we begin to share our journey with you, we’ll be sitting down with the people whose passion and commitment for the future of our generation is helping the Academies of Lexington take flight. Today, we’re speaking with Frederick Douglass High School Academy Coach Shawn Hinds to get a closer look at what’s happening at Douglass, and why it matters so much.

Opened in the fall of 2017, Frederick Douglass High School was designed for an Academy-style education from inception. Each Academy is housed in its own wing and includes top-of-the-line technology and innovative, Academy-specific features like real hospital beds in the Academy of Health Sciences. It all adds up to an interconnected learning experience that’s unique to Douglass.

With more than nine years of experience in education, Shawn is dedicated to challenging teachers, students and community leaders to look at education differently.

Q: Why are you so passionate about this initiative? 

A: This initiative is great because it finally helps teachers answer a question that we get from students all the time, which is, “Why do I need to know this?”

By connecting what our students learn in classes—like English and Math—to something they are interested in—like Medicine or Law—we are truly able to engage them and show them why school is relevant in the “real world.”

Q: Can you tell us more about how the Academies will enhance collegiate and workforce performance?

A: Our Academy graduates not only receive a high school diploma—they can graduate with an industry certification and an education centered around critical thinking, collaboration and other important life skills. The Academies are positioned to provide students with everything they need to succeed after high school, whether they choose to enter the workforce immediately or go to college.

Q: How are the Academies linking academics with real-world careers and hands-on applications?

A: Academy teachers from across disciplines work together to develop lessons that merge their unique content. For example, in our Academy of Health Sciences, students might read articles about diseases from the Journal of the American Medical Association while studying Pathology in Biomedical Sciences, and Medical Math in Math class. This gives our students a real-world, interconnected application for content that they need to learn.

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

A: Parents, students, and our business partners are all excited about the possibilities for our students. They see the Academies as a way to prepare students for the future. Parents especially love the fact that their students get to explore various careers in high school, giving them the chance to discover what they like and what they don’t like early on—which can save costs associated with changing majors in college.

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

A: This is a community-wide initiative and it will take support from everyone who has a stake in Lexington’s future. Reach out to me, or one of the other Academy Coaches, if you’re interested in learning more about how you can support the Academies of Lexington.

If you’d like to continue the conversation with Shawn, feel free to contact him at (859) 381- 3780 or

You can learn more about how the Academies of Lexington are revolutionizing what school can be for public high school students by visiting our website at Stay tuned as we continue to highlight the amazing things our students are learning and achieving right here in Lexington.