An after-school club at Culler Middle School is exposing students to potential career pathways they otherwise may have never considered.
The Empire Builders Club provides Culler students the opportunity to explore educational and career opportunities in construction, computer-aided drafting (known as CAD), manufacturing, electronics and other technical trades. The club is a partnership between Culler, Southeast Community College and The Career Academy (TCA).
Culler science teacher Mary Herrington started the club three years ago.
“I saw a need for students to be exposed to alternative career pathways as opposed to just going to a four-year college,” Herrington said. “Just seeing that there are other opportunities out there, both with careers and possibly attending a two-year college.”
The club meets after school for two hours, every Monday for 12 weeks. Meetings typically attract 15-20 students, mostly eighth-graders and usually an even mix of boys and girls. The club hosts guest speakers at Culler, travels to Southeast Community College and TCA to use their tools and technology, and visits local businesses. Students visited Kidwell’s Lincoln location in February - the kind of experience that can have a lasting impact.
“They’ve been able to meet people, they’ve come back with business cards, they’ve seen that they could be interns at these businesses in the summer,” Herrington said.
Herrington stressed that Southeast Community College and TCA have been vital to the club’s success, offering students hands-on experience with technology such as 3D printers and robotics.
TCA Director Dan Hohensee said it’s great for middle school students, such as those with the Empire Builders Club, to visit TCA and start exploring career options.
“Even if students who come over for the construction activities don't go into that field, they still have a career exposure and have started developing a skill set they may use in another area or some other time.”
Published: March 7, 2018, Updated: March 7, 2018