After a successful first year, the Pioneer Academy is ready to offer eligible juniors and seniors credits for both high school graduation and junior college courses, as well as providing useful job skills in health services, welding, construction and information technology.
Health and welding classes are currently taught at Nebraska City High School, while the Pioneer Academy houses the information technology and construction classes, said Nebraska City Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Jeffrey Edwards.
Edwards said last year’s success of the construction component of the Pioneer Academy led Southeast Community College to offer the courses and job skills at other locations around southeast Nebraska.
“We’ve had lots of requests for services and projects” from the construction students, said Edwards, including a custom-built front door for a home in Percival, Iowa; plaques for last year’s Nebraska City Middle School year-end awards assembly; and a table at the MRB-Lewis and Clark Center.
In another part of the academy, information technology students solved a problem that saved the district about $25 in equipment replacement, said Edwards.
The IT students were able to use the academy’s 3-D printer to replicate a plastic brace on a piece of construction equipment, he said, rather than having to purchase a replacement part.
Pioneer Academy students complete an application process to enter the academy, said Edwards, and they complete portfolios, write resumes and create personal websites during their time in the academy.
Students in the SCC service area can explore 10 different career pathways if they qualify to participate in the Southeast Nebraska Career Academy Partnership, said Edwards.
Areas of study not currently offered in Nebraska City include agriculture, business, criminal justice, and early and secondary childhood education, said Edwards, who added that additional areas of study will be added to the Pioneer Academy in the future.
Through an arrangement with SCC and the generosity of the Steinhart and Nelson Foundations, students do not have to pay anything to take classes at the Pioneer Academy, said Edwards.
Students who successfully complete two years of courses at the Pioneer Academy are also eligible to bypass SCC wait lists, said Edwards.
After the needs of the Nebraska City High School students are met, said Edwards, students from other Otoe County high schools, as well as home-schooled students,  can apply for remaining openings at the Pioneer Academy.