Looking more like a corporate headquarters than a school, The Leonard A. Gereau Center for Applied Technology and Career Exploration is nestled in Franklin County, twenty miles south of Roanoke, Virginia, and just south of the Blue Ridge Mountains in southwestern Virginia. The school building’s corporate look and feel are part of an intentional design to expose students to a work environment.
The Gereau Center offers Franklin County’s student population experience with new, information-based technologies that are represented among the regional industry base. The Gereau Center’s uniqueness is derived from the way district leaders were able to envision changes in the skills necessary for the emerging workforce and bring together several components at once: curriculum development, state-of-the-art hardware and software, parent and industry involvement, and a building designed to support the infusion of technology into learning.
While many instructional technology programs are designed to accomplish a few main goals, The Gereau Center embraces broad objectives that affect all students across many disciplines. Students are immersed in problem-based activities that require them to seek answers to real-world problems.
Because of the decisions and actions that students make during eighth grade have the greatest impact on post-secondary schooling options and career choices, this grade level was targeted for change. All eighth grade students attend The Gereau Center. The students at The Gereau Center have an opportunity to investigate nine career tracks projected to be in demand when these students enter the workforce.
This unique facility also serves as a community and business resource. Parts of the building are available for community meetings, video-conferencing, and distance learning. The Gereau Center truly increases the opportunity for continued learning for people throughout the community and across all age groups.
The Gereau Center has demonstrated a positive impact on student achievement. The program, and the building in which it is housed, allow the exposure of every student in the school system a unique learning environment that offers exciting opportunities to develop talents, skills, and interests that might go undiscovered in more traditional classrooms.