TCA capstone project creates circle of giving back – from current TCA student to former TCA student

A high school senior at The Career Academy (TCA)is turning her capstone project into a way of giving books to students at Lincoln Public Schools – and giving back to a former Career Academy student who now teaches at LPS.  

Maleaka Boedhram, a senior at Lincoln Northeast High School – and a student in the K-12 Education pathway at TCA – used her capstone project to collect more than 80 books that she is now donating to Everett Elementary School first graders.  

“My project is important to me because I think that books are an important part of every student's education,” Maleaka says.  “Books can be very pricey, and I wanted to make a way for students to still get the opportunity to have nice books.”

In turn, Zoe Prenda – who now teaches first grade at Everett – is a graduate of TCA and finds this gift especially meaningful: “It was so special to have a student who was in my position a few years ago wanting to give back and get involved with the schools.  I remember being a student at TCA and wanting to help in the schools as much as possible. Maleaka found a very impactful way to make a difference.”

And children were impacted, Prenda stresses.  “It was incredible to see my students' faces light up with excitement when they got their new books for our library. They work so hard throughout the year to learn how to read and it means the world to them when they are able to spend time with a book that is at their level and fall in love with reading.”

Kenna Grove, English Language Arts teacher at TCA, explains that all TCA students are required to complete a capstone project during the second semester of their senior year.

“We ask students not only to demonstrate the knowledge they gain in their respective pathways but also to utilize the soft skills we teach them in our program as a way to connect outside of the building. Our ultimate goal is for students to have a cumulative experience that helps them connect not only with other students and teachers in our school district, but also with the Lincoln community as a whole.”

Grove is proud of Maleaka and her profound work in organizing the book drive.  “She has such a big heart, and I have no doubt she will thrive as a future educator.”

Maleaka says she chose the K-12 Education pathway at TCA because she has known she wanted to be a teacher – ever since she was a child.  “Thanks to the experiences I have gained at TCA I know that pursuing elementary education is what I want to do in the future.” 

She selected the book drive as a capstone project because her own mom read books to her as a child.   “And I wanted to make it possible for all families to have that special reading time like I had growing up … I was super excited and surprised by their enthusiasm. Their excitement made me even more excited about my project.”

Maleaka says she worked with her teachers at TCA to find a way for the book drive to come to life. “I held the book drive at TCA, and the majority of the books we received were from students and staff at TCA. I also partnered with Indigo Bridge, and they were able to help donate.”

Prenda, at Everett, explains further: “Even though we have an amazing school library and I have collected books to have in my classroom, this donation is incredibly meaningful to me and my students … As a teacher, the best part of the job is watching your students get excited about their learning and Maleaka gave us the opportunity to do that.”

Published: April 29, 2022, Updated: April 29, 2022