EVSC Unveils OptIN Program Led by Executive Director B. J. Watts And Alex Burton, OptIN Program Manager


The Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation announced an innovative program aimed at helping students and parents identify all of the opportunities available to them upon high school graduation. OptIN, Opportunities through Partnerships that Transform and Inspire, will educate EVSC students on postsecondary and career options that best match their interests and strengths.

“OptIN will focus on extending and expanding options for all students,” said EVSC Superintendent David Smith. “We have students with incredible promise and we have first-rate employers that are not able to fill high-wage, high-demand positions. OptIN will connect students’ passion and interests with open positions in our community by ensuring our students have the education and transferable skills necessary for today’s workforce.”

According to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, Research & Analysis, by year 2024 there will be 78,200 unfilled jobs in the Evansville area alone. Of those, nearly 75 percent will require either a high school diploma, postsecondary certification, or four-year degree. Evansville also mimics some of the same trends seen nationally.  The 2016-2017 U. S. Talent Shortage Survey revealed some of the most difficult-to-fill jobs in the nation are skilled trades, health care workers, teachers and technicians. These are also high-demand job opportunities in the Evansville region.

“OptIN will have a long-lasting, positive impact on the entire Evansville community by providing local employers direct access to a highly-skilled workforce.” Smith said. “OptIN will significantly benefit Evansville and the surrounding community as we develop and retain our home-grown talent.”

“As a community, our thinking has to change regarding how we define postsecondary success,” Smith said. “We certainly will continue to support students who choose to pursue a four-year degree, but we also have to realize that students can be extremely successful in a host of careers that build upon students’ skills and interests. OptIN will allow us to provide tangible opportunities that marry students’ aptitudes with their passions. It will leverage current initiatives and supports to ensure EVSC students and families are aware of the myriad of options and opportunities available for lifelong success.”

OptIN will be led by Executive Director B. J. Watts, most recently an EVSC teacher. Watts  served on the Evansville City Council from 2001 – 2011 and as a Governor’s Appointee to the Indiana State Board of Education since 2011. Alex Burton, OptIN program manager, will work one-on-one with students to help them identify interests and develop the skills necessary to be successful.