Update: Developing the Lincoln Career Academy

career academy under constructionOur last post on the Lincoln Career Academy was in 2014. Back then, the academy was just one big construction project, still unsure whether or not it would be able to raise the money it needed.

Academy director Dan Hohensee thought that the project was worth it, though, and was excited to take on the challenge: “I kind of feel like the blue-collar lunchpail guy that has the opportunity to move up a little bit from the classroom to the office,” he said. “It’s getting called to the office for the right reason.”

If you aren’t familiar with the Career Academy, it’s a pretty exciting new venture. A joint work between Lincoln Public Schools and Southeast Community college, “the goal of TCA is to provide academic and real world experiences to high school juniors and seniors through high school and dual credit courses in 16 different career pathways.”

The way it works is that students attend TCA for two hours a day while continuing to take their courses back at their home high school. Best of all? Transportation in the LPS district is provided, books are free, and tuition is free through scholarships or paid at 50% discount to the regular SCC charge. As The Lincoln Journal-Star reports, the academy has faced a variety of successes, and of course challenges, thus far in their two month journey. “I think (the biggest challenge was just finding out what it was going to look like with kids in the facility,” said Hohensee.

With big dreams of offering high school juniors and seniors real-life experiences, internships, and dual credit courses, LPS also planned to offer introductory courses and broaden its career education curriculum. When the building opened two months ago, it was actually still under construction. Students who had planned on entering the welding, construction, culinary foundations, and precision machining pathways had no equipment to work on for three to six weeks. “I think it was just hardest for those kids. Those kids came to do some hands-on, real-world kinds of things and they ended up in the classroom,” Hohensee explains.

However, the Career Academy has been able to offer several opportunities that are truly one-of-a-kind. Hohensee tells the Star that field trips are common in the academy, and about 180 businesspeople from more than 130 businesses have helped facilitate over 30 field trips. “It seems like every week a field trip is going or coming,” said Michelle Fonck, who helped start the LPS Entrepreneurship Focus Program. “It’s just been a great connection back out to the community.” Field trips have included Best Buy’s Geek Squad, a nuclear power plant, Hudl, Kawasaki, and more.

As the school continues to grow, the pathways available will work out the kinks and provide outstanding technical education for students. You can learn more about the educational opportunities here, but there’s no other school that provides grade-level education in precision machining, early childhood, construction, health science, info tech, and more. It’s truly unique.

We look forward to seeing this Lincoln gem continue to grow, thrive, and outlast its challenges.

Photo credit: Francis Gardler/Lincoln Journal Star