Career academies aren’t a new tradition in America, or even Nebraska, for that matter. The Omaha World-Herald’s history claims that academies actually go back as far as 45 years, first designed for students at risk of dropping out in order to give them marketable skills and increase their chance of graduation.
Today, they serve a different purpose, more often attended by students who hope to gain college credit at a reduced cost or those who are looking for real-world experience and skills to take to technical trades. In that light, they are incredibly useful, even for students who might want to attend technical schools. The idea of focused, specific, education is valuable for both students looking to work immediately or continue their education further.
In Nebraska, the Omaha Public School district offers a wide variety of magnet programs, career academies, and technical programs for high school and middle school students. Burke High School offers an Aeronautics & Space program for grades 10-12, Omaha Bryan’s Urban and Natural Agriculture Resources academy recruits Bryan freshmen, and the Creative and Technical Sciences academy is for students in grades K-12. You can read more about the programs and find a full list here, but more importantly, these skills and academies are available throughout the Omaha area for students in need of them.
These academies are not only trending in Nebraska’s larger cities: This week, the Gering Citizen announced that career academies are on the horizon for Gering Public Schools! As the county seat of Scottsbluff, this is a major move for the district and will open up more flexible learning options for students by June 2018. GPS already offers several career and technical programs like manufacturing with an emphasis on construction, welding, and auto and business programs like business management, marketing, and information technology. However, there’s a demand for more student exposure for medical sciences and programming.
The proposed plan will enact career academies in six career clusters: Business, Marketing and Management, Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources, Communication and Information systems, Skilled and Technical Sciences, Health Sciences, and Human Sciences and Education. “Soon we will be forming an advisory group of business leaders and community members to talk about what kind of academies we see a need for in our community, what kind of jobs are here, and what kind of needs exist,” said Superintendent Bob Hastings. “We will start to flow students into them. This won’t happen overnight, but it will work its way through our system so within the next several years we will continue to grow and develop.”
It’s exciting to see public school districts taking an interests in the needs and realities of their students, with moves such as these being made in parts of rural Nebraska. As more continue to follow suit, students will have more opportunities than ever before to prepare for successful skilled or technical careers.
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