Distance Learning

Coalition Brings Online Career and Technical Ed to Wisconsin

Fox Valley Technical College, the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 139, the McFarland School District and K12 have partnered to launch Destinations Career Academy of Wisconsin (WIDCA), an online high school focused on career and technical education (CTE), the state's first such school.

WIDCA "is a tuition-free online public charter school open to students statewide in grades 9-12," according to a news release. "The school will serve full-time students as well as offer individual courses to students in schools that do not have access to CTE programs. The school is now accepting open enrollments."

The pre-apprenticeship program aims to offer students a head start on their career goals by providing opportunities for college credit, workplace experience, industry certifications and technical and specialty trade credentials.

Students, whether enrolled full or part time, can enroll in multiple versions of core high school classes or CTE courses in any of four Wisconsin career clusters, which include architecture and construction; business, management and administration; health science; and information technology.

"One of the school's most innovative offerings, developed through an exclusive partnership with the Operating Engineers and Fox Valley Technical College, is the Operating Engineers program in the Construction Pathway," according to a news release. "This one-of-a-kind 'pre-apprenticeship' program directed by the Operating Engineers will give students hands-on experience and prepare them to enter apprenticeship training to become successful operating engineers — heavy equipment operators, mechanics and surveyors — in the construction industry. The Operating Engineers intends to offer summer camps for WIDCA students working through this career pathway at its state-of-the-art facility based in Coloma."

Fox Valley Technical College is working with the Operating Engineers to develop the curriculum for the program. The college will also work to facilitate blended learning opportunities for students at schools, regional centers and training sites from around Wisconsin.

The nonprofit public charter school will use curriculum and academic services provided by K12 and will be governed by an independent board of directors authorized by the McFarland School District.

"Our mission is to serve the needs of every student and maximize opportunities for all," said Andrew Briddell, superintendent of McFarland School District, in a prepared statement. "This is the goal of our district and Destinations Career Academy of Wisconsin. We are excited to make this school option available to families across the state."

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at jbolkan@gmail.com.

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