“21st Century Learning”

The Career Academy

  • Enhance CTE Programs by providing tools to explore the 16 Career Pathways
  • Create a learning environment that’s fun and engaging
  • Allow students & teachers to construct convenient, quality materials without the need to outsource

An effective CTE program will ensure your students are not only learning their coursework but also applying that knowledge, thereby transferring what they are learning in the classroom directly to their future careers, instilling them with an education that is engaging, long-lasting, and adaptable to our world today. VariQuest® Visual and Kinesthetic Learning Tools lend themselves nicely to such a program, and this is exactly the story told by The Career Academy (TCA) in Lincoln, Nebraska…

TCA is a collaborative effort between Southeast Community College in Lincoln, NE and the Lincoln Public School District, preparing high school juniors and seniors for college life or an industry trade through 16 different career pathways. Students attend the academy for two hours each day during the regular school year, participating in high school and dual-credit courses, while taking the rest of their classes at their “home” high school. Upon graduation, students are better-prepared to enter the workforce, work towards a certificate in their chosen field, or continue on to college – taking their career course credits with them.

After being impressed by the VariQuest suite of tools at a conference in 2015, Southeast Community College purchased the VariQuest Perfecta® 2400 Poster Design System, Poster Maker 3600, Cutout Maker 1800, Awards Maker 400 and Cold Laminator 2510 and placed them at TCA, thanks to a generous gift from an anonymous donor, and TCA pathway instructors have since been thrilled with the how their building’s environment has changed. “The significant impact is evident by transformed classrooms full of anchor charts, created on both the Perfecta and Poster Maker, and interactive bulletin boards [from the Cutout Maker],” says Nicole Barrett, Business Administration Pathway Instructor. “Students utilize the charts to augment their learning during class and review material during work sessions.”

Nicole rotates anchors charts printed from the Perfecta and Poster Maker in her classroom based on the current lesson. The VariQuest Design Center and Software contains hundreds of curriculum-based poster and banner templates for classrooms – and also allows you to easily create and customize your own!

Beyond the transformed classrooms, TCA is utilizing the VariQuest tools to support various career pathways; preparing students for whatever endeavor their future holds….

Participating students in an organization called Educators Rising had a requirement last year to write and illustrate their own children’s book. The instructor took their completed work, scanned it and printed each page as a mini-size poster from the VariQuest Perfecta® 2400. From there the posters were bound into a book, and student authors were given the opportunity to present their books at a local bookstore, leading their children’s story hour. In addition, the books were entered into an annual competition and 4 of the books placed at the state level, with 1 placing at the national level.

“I was so impressed with the quality of the student’s work, and how well the Perfecta printer showcased their creations.” – Jame Cartwright, Early Education Pathway Instructor

Mary Hagemann- K-12 Education Pathway instructor, along with Jame Cartwright, use the VariQuest Cutout Maker 1800 for classroom materials, including manipulatives, interactive notebooks, bulletin boards, and more. Students get in on the action by creating output to use during their practicums, and to embellish their individual student portfolios, which include chapter summaries they can keep and reference at a later date.

The Business Administration Pathway has an ongoing project each semester, in cooperation with Junior Achievement (JA), where students are tasked with setting up a student-run business. Not only do the VariQuest Tools help support these small businesses, but students at The Career Academy gain the opportunity to develop real-world business skills such as managing cost to purchase materials and supplies, predicting operating costs, performing inventory audits, and of course creating posters and banners to market their products, events, and recruitment.

In the spring of 2016, one of the student-run companies used the VariQuest Awards Maker 400 to create customized stickers to adhere to water bottles they successfully sold at cheerleading and other athletic events. As their capstone, they created a commercial about their business, and entered it into a national competition – check out their video!


Another JA student-based company had success selling “Hawks” & “Eagles” cards made from the Cutout Maker and laminated using the VariQuest Cold Laminator 2510, to Southeast Community College for each department to use in an engaging learning activity.

Outside of the small businesses students are tasked to operate and manage, Nicole Barrett strives to make learning fun for her juniors and seniors with a review game that determines who the ‘Eggsperts’ are following a particular unit of study. The Cutout Maker and Cold Laminator make it easy to engage her students with colorful game cards.

In addition, both Nicole and Jame like to see what has ‘stuck’ with each student, by displaying this board by the classroom door, as a quick way to check for understanding while grabbing an exit ticket.

Other projects include:

  • The Early Childhood students participated in an in-depth study on the artistic style of Eric Carle. They painted tissue paper, then laminated it on the VariQuest Cold Laminator 2510, and with the help of the Cutout Maker 1800, they cut it into letters and decorated their classroom walls with “Carle Quotes.”
  • Instructors of the Business Client Relations pathway use the Awards Maker and Perfecta Poster Design System to create personalized learning plans and motivational tools for students.
  • A highlight at the end of each year is the “Outstanding Senior Award” presented to an individual graduate, representing each of the 16 career pathways. The award is carefully created and personalized on the Awards Maker.
  • The Business Admin pathway, along with the Ag/Bio pathway, plan to use the VariQuest Visual and Kinesthetic Learning Tools for competitive events through DECA and FFA. The tools will allow students to create memorable, eye-catching display boards with ease, giving them more time for role-playing and preparing for the competitions.

Overall, Nicole, Jame, and Mary all agree that the VariQuest Tools benefit both teachers & students in creating a learning environment that’s fun and engaging, supporting career pathways with hands-on skill-building, and providing quality output convenience, saving time and money on outsourcing.

“The Career Academy loves the opportunities the VariQuest Tools have made possible for our classrooms and student endeavors. We look forward to them sparking even more creativity in the years to come!” – Nicole Barrett