College and career program is a success, looks to expand it next year

Omaha, Nebraska (WOWT) – Omaha Public Schools says its new college and career academy and pathway programs have been successful so far. So much so that they are trying to expand it. It is a program that started in all school districts from this year. The school is now presenting updates to the OPS Board of Directors regarding college and career-oriented programs.

“I’ve always wanted to do [major in] Business, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do [do] in business,” he said.

Joshua King is a fourth year student participating in the Business Pathway at Omaha Central High.

He says he hopes to eventually pursue a career in business management, partly because of this program.

“I wish I had done it sooner so I could get a head start on what I wanted to do. It pushed me later, but now these freshmen have the opportunity to grow and understand at a young age,” he said.

Danielle Brandt is an assistant principal at Central High School. She endorsed its implementation.

“The idea was, how can we as a district make sure that every student has access to what happens after high school,” Brandt said.

Academies and pathway options vary by high school.

“So if a kid is in Central and they say, ‘I really want to be a doctor,’ and they don’t necessarily have a particular medical path, we look and say, ‘Hey, you. What do you know? We have global health research pathways to expose you to the UNMC and different locations,” she said.

You can also work your way up with a counselor. Or you can switch if your current path isn’t right for you.

“This is our first year and we have been able to offer a path that every student wants to choose,” says Brandt.

6 News spoke with Dr. Rich Klein, Vice Chancellor of the University of Nebraska Omaha, who helps oversee undergraduate admissions. Even if he doesn’t fall in love with his chosen track, he says it’s worth participating.

“I don’t think it locks them into a particular field long term. “The sooner that change, the better.”

OPS hopes to expand its links with local employers in Omaha to offer internships and extracurricular activities as part of this program.

OPS research shows that students who take three or more career- or technology-based classes have an average 11% higher graduation rate than those who don’t.

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