PLATTSMOUTH – Plattsmouth High School students have enjoyed participating in their academy learning structure for the past four years.
They learned in late January that they have been taking classes in one of the premier career academy setups in the nation.
Plattsmouth teachers, administrators and staff members announced Jan. 21 that the National Career Academy Coalition (NCAC) had given PHS the coveted “Model Career Academy” designation. School leaders held a celebration event in front of a large crowd at girls and boys basketball games involving Plattsmouth and Syracuse.
PHS Principal Todd Halvorsen told the audience school officials were excited when they learned the NCAC had honored the district with the award. Representatives of the national organization provide schools with several levels of recognition after conducting tours of their career academies. The “Model Career Academy” label is one of the best a school can receive.
“We’re pretty proud because after our first review we were named a model career academy,” Halvorsen told the crowd. “That is a big deal. This is a huge thing for our school and for our community.”
Plattsmouth social studies teacher and BEACH Academy Director Steve Owens said the distinction allowed PHS to join an elite group of schools in the United States. Grand Island Senior High and Omaha Bryan are the only other Nebraska high schools to have received a “Model Career Academy” rating. Many of the other Model Career Academy schools are located in large cities such as Nashville, Honolulu and Jacksonville.
“As far as we can tell we’re one of the smallest schools in the country to earn this award,” Owens said. “It’s a huge feather in our cap. We’re all very excited about it.”
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The NCAC introduced a career academy review process in 2009 that was based on National Standards of Practice criteria. Schools could earn labels of “In Progress,” “Certified” or “Model” with perfect scores receiving a “Model With Distinction” branding.
Several trained NCAC representatives spent several hours touring the PHS campus earlier in the school year. They interviewed administrators, teachers, staff members and students to gain insight on how Plattsmouth’s academy structure worked.
The NCAC representatives learned Plattsmouth’s academy system began in 2016 after a group of administrators and staff members proposed the concept to Plattsmouth Board of Education members. The board approved the re-organization of the high school and the academies began operating in the 2016-17 year.
Students can choose one of three academy tracks to follow through their high school years. These include the A-TEAM, BEACH and STEAM academies. Students take many of their classes in one of those three groups and use them to fine-tune their possible career options.
The A-TEAM Academy focuses on careers that utilize hands-on learning such as agriculture, mechanics and transportation. Students in the BEACH Academy rely on auditory and visual learning skills for careers such as communications, art and education. The STEAM Academy is a home for students who learn about careers in science, technology, engineering, aeronautics and math.
Plattsmouth students also formed the Academy Core Leaders (ACL) program after the academy structure was implemented. ACL team members create and plan many school and community projects. The ACL system allows students from all three academies to come together for schoolwide events.
Owens told the crowd the academies had borne fruit in many career and technical education areas. Five years ago only nine PHS students were enrolled in industrial technology classes. That number has grown to 120 this school year. Owens also emphasized to the audience that Plattsmouth teachers, paraprofessionals, administrators and other staff members had the best interests of every child at heart.
“My colleagues and peers are in here fighting every day for your child to be successful,” Owens said. “You need to know that your kids are cared for when they walk into this building. This team cares about every single child that comes in here for school. The teachers, administrators and staff members here are amazing.”