ABILENE – Jay Ashby, who has served as the associate principal at Cooper High School for the last two years, has been named the Director of The LIFT, which will open to students in August 2021 and will house ATEMS and many of the district’s Career and Technical Education programs.
“I am extremely excited to serve the AISD in this new role,” Ashby said. “Thanks to the support of the Abilene community, The LIFT is going to provide incredible opportunities for students. With ATEMS and CTE programming under one roof, this new facility will provide numerous avenues to prepare students for success after high school.”
Ashby will finish out the 2020-21 school year at Cooper before officially taking over as the first director of one of the district’s newest buildings. At a price tag of almost $40 million and right at 120,000 square feet of learning space, The LIFT is the most expensive and largest building ever built by the AISD. The LIFT is the centerpiece of four new schools built by the district that will be built as part of the $138.7 million bond package that passed in November 2018.
New buildings for Austin Elementary School and Taylor Elementary School opened this school year (Austin last August and Taylor earlier this month), and The LIFT and a new building for Dyess Elementary School are both scheduled to open to students in August 2021 in time for the 2021-22 school year.
ATEMS will move from its current home in the old TSTC building on East Hwy. 80 and take up residence inside The LIFT, alongside the CTE programs. Ashby will oversee all aspects of programming at The LIFT, which will include supervisory authority over ATEMS and CTE programming. The LIFT – which is short for Leadership & Innovation in Future Technologies – will feature project-based learning areas, collaboration spaces and facilities for such CTE programs as digital and multimedia arts, graphic design, culinary, information technology, programming and software development, engineering, welding, carpentry, and electrical and automotive trades.
The building will also have a full kitchen and cafeteria and administrative offices, as well as a bistro, video and recording studios, computer and science labs, counseling center, and classrooms.
“I am thrilled about the selection of Jay Ashby to be the Director of The LIFT Center!,” AISD Superintendent Dr. David Young said. “His vision for connecting all AISD students to innovative programming opportunities and connecting them to relevant post-secondary experiences is both exciting and well-constructed. I look forward to supporting Mr. Ashby, AISD staff, and our district’s students as we open what, in my opinion, is a facility that will truly transform the student experience in the Abilene Independent School District.”
Ashby began his work with the AISD as a World Geography teacher at Abilene High School in the Fall of 2011, serving at AHS for two years before going across town to Cooper High School in the Fall of 2012 where he’s been ever since. He’s served as the Facilitator of Extended School Program / Teacher (2012-13), Assistant Principal (2013-16), 9th Grade Instructional Specialist (2016-19) and Associate Principal (2019-present).
A 2006 graduate of Abilene High School, Ashby earned his bachelor’s in behavioral science from Hardin-Simmons University in December 2010 before earning his master’s in Education Administration from Lamar University in May 2013.
He and his wife, Kate, are expecting their first child later this spring.