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Small, personalized learning communities within a school that equip students with job skills and ready them for success in the workforce. Students enter the academy through a voluntary process; they must apply and be accepted with parental knowledge and support.
Career Academies are small, personalized learning communities centered on a career theme. These exciting programs, which include a college-prep curriculum and a path to industry certifications, challenge students and assist them in finding an engaging career path. Career Academies align with local industry needs and ensure that students are prepared to become skilled employees in high-demand occupations. Through dynamic curriculum, support from a local advisory committee and partnerships with employers, the community and higher education, students are prepared for future educational and career success.
A Career Academy involves teachers from different subjects working together as a team.
Staff teams, who often share common planning time, work together to implement the key features of the Career Academy and provide students with career training. Students may be grouped together for several periods every day with a core group of teachers. This promotes a family-like atmosphere and results in close student-teacher ties.
Additionally, many Career Academies offer opportunities for on-the-job training, job shadowing, or internships as well as the option to earn college credit while in high school.
Polk County Public Schools strives to ensure that its Career Academies are high-quality. As a result, PCPS has the second highest number of National Career Academy Coalition (NCAC) accredited academies in the nation! NCAC (National Career Academy Coalition) is an organization based out of Nashville, Tennessee that supports Career Academies and conducts Career Academy Reviews to determine if an academy is a high functioning quality Career Academy.
As of 2019, thirteen PCPS Career Academies have been recognized as Model Career Academies and ten have been recognized as Certified Career Academies.
NCAC Model Academies
- Auburndale Medical Academy – Auburndale High School
- Bartow Culinary Academy – Bartow High School
- Bartow Medical & Fire Academy – Bartow High School
- Future Educators Academy – Bartow High School
- Summerlin Academy – Bartow High School
- Ag Dogs Agriscience Academy – Frostproof Middle-Senior High School
- Academy of Design Technology – George Jenkins High School
- Academy of Legal Studies – George Jenkins High School
- GEICO Academy of Advanced Business Management – George Jenkins High School
- George Jenkins Academy of Engineering & Architecture – George Jenkins High School
- George Jenkins Medical Academy – George Jenkins High School
- Academy of Media Productions – Haines City High School
- Environmental Agriculture & Technology Academy – Haines City High School
- Academy of Natural Resources – Kathleen High School
- Central Florida Aerospace Academy – Kathleen High School
- Ridge Community Medical Academy – Ridge Community High School
- Winter Haven Medical Academy – Winter Haven High School
NCAC Certified Academies
- Academy of Architecture, Construction & Engineering – Bartow High School
- Criminal Justice Academy – Bartow High School
- Academy of Pharmacy Technicians – Fort Meade Middle-Senior High School
- Agrowtechnology Academy – Fort Meade High School
- Distrotek – Kathleen High School
- Academy of Finance – Lake Gibson High School
- Future Educators Academy – Lake Gibson High School
- Lake Gibson Academy of Health – Lake Gibson High School
- Polk Academy of Business & Technology – Lake Gibson High School
- Culinary team – Lake Region High School
- Engineering Technology Academy – Ridge Community High School
- Lakeland Electric Power Academy – Tenoroc High School
What is CTE?
Career Academies are a branch within Career and Technical Education (CTE). Click here to learn more about CTE.
Career Academy FAQs
What is a Career Academy?
A Career Academy combines an academic curriculum with an occupational theme through the career and technical courses, and provides a student with a program of study.
Partnerships with community members and local businesses help strengthen the real world experience of a Career Academy. Students enrolled in a Career Academy may have more opportunity for college credit, on the job training and to earn certifications appropriate to the career field.
Where do I apply?
The application can only be found on the Parent Portal during the Open Enrollment window.
If I am an in-zone student, should I apply to a Career Academy?
No. Please speak with the Guidance Office at your students school to inform them of your student’s desire to be in an academy at your zoned school.
Should in-zone students apply online for a Middle School Pre-Academy or High School Career Academy?
No, please speak with the School Counselor at your school to inform him/her of your desire to enroll in an In-Zone Career Academy.
How are Career Academies and School-Based Enterprises related?
A School-based Enterprise is a business within the Career and Technical Education Program.
For example, the iMAG Academy students at Lake Region High School run a graphic design and marketing business.
Can a Middle School Pre-Academy or High School Career Academy student participate in other school activities such as clubs and sports?
Yes! Any student enrolled in a Career Academy may be involved in as many school activities as he/she chooses. Being a vital part of the school community is as important as being a vital part of the Career Academy.
What is "Industry Certification"?
Industry Certification is a certification that is recognized within the industry of the career and technical program. Earning an Industry Certification can provide students with employment opportunities upon graduation that may not be available to other students.
An example of an industry certification is the Adobe Certified Associate (Photoshop or Illustrator), which is certified by Adobe Systems.
How do college and career majors relate to Career Academies?
The state of Florida requires students to identify their Major Area of Interest upon enrolling in the 9th grade. A student who enrolls in an academy will identify the academy’s career field as their career major.
How will I know if my student’s application has been submitted?
Parents who submit applications through Parent Portal will receive an email that their application has been successfully submitted. Parents may also check application status on Parent Portal.
When will I know if my student has been accepted into a Career Academy?
First round lottery acceptance notifications will be sent out in late March.
Does PCPS provide transportation for out-of-zone Career Academy students?
No. Transportation is the responsibility of the family.
Why should I join a Middle School Pre-Academy or High School Career Academy?
Students will be part of a small learning community which will share their interests and desire to learn about a specific career field. Students will be taught by teachers with expertise in the career field and excitement to engage learning. Joining a Career Academy can also provide opportunities that may not be available to other high school students such as post-secondary articulation and experiential learning with local businesses.
Do I need to re-apply every year?
If your student is already enrolled in a middle school Pre-Academy or high school Career Academy, then you do not need to reapply. However, if your student is transitioning from middle school to high school, your student will need to apply for the high school of your choice.
Do Career Academies have prerequisites?
Some Career Academies may have prerequisites that must be met before a student is eligible for acceptance.
What are Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs) and how do they relate to academies?
Career and Technical Student Organizations are nationally recognized organizations that focus on the Career and Technical Education programs in which a student is enrolled. These CTSOs provide leadership and competitive opportunities based around the CTSO career theme.
CTSOs provides further opportunity to engage students in their career field of interest. A CTSO can be offered both within a Career Academy as well as within a Career and Technical Education program.
The following is a list of CTSOs offered in Polk County:
-Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA)
-Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA)
-Future Farmers of America (FFA)
-Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA)
-Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA)
-Technology Student Association (TSA)
-Future Builders of America (FBA)
-Florida Future Educators of America (FFEA)
Do Middle School Pre-Academy or High School Career Academies offer scholarships?
Most Career Academy students will have the ability to earn the Florida Gold Seal Vocational Scholars Award, which is part of the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program. For more information about how to qualify, students should see their School Counselor.
What is "Articulation"?
Articulation is earning college credit through participation in a high school program. For example, a student in an Early Childhood Education program may earn 6 hours of college credit at Polk State College for completing the program at his/her high school. Some articulation agreements require students to pass a specified test or provide a portfolio of work.
High school students that were enrolled in an academy had a higher average GPA than students who are not enrolled in an academy
Approximately 56% of Polk County’s high school students are enrolled in an academy
Polk's high school career academy students earned more Dual Enrollment credit and Industry Certifications than students who were not enrolled in an academy
Career Academy Business Partners
How Your Business
Can Make a Difference
With the current focus on “high-skill, high-wage, high-demand” employment, it is critical that the community works together to ensure that the next generation of employees and leaders are prepared to maintain the future growth of our economy. Business partners play a vital role in the success of Career Academies and the students of Polk County can benefit greatly from your support. Career Academies are currently seeking partners to:
- Volunteer as a Guest Speaker
- Offer Internships or On-the-Job Training
- Offer Company (Facility) Tours
- Provide Student Scholarships
- Serve on an Advisory Board
- Provide Equipment
- Provide Financial Sponsorship
If your business is interested in partnering with Career Academies, contact us at 863-519-8438.
Academy Advisory Board
The goal of the Polk Career Academies Advisory Board is to link the resources of business, education, and local community in order to promote higher education, career pathways, and active civic participation. Board members assist Career Academies by providing:
- Industry expertise to support Career Academy curriculum
- Assist in student recruitment
- Provide internships for Career Academy students
- Encourage other community businesses to support Career Academy initiatives
- Advocacy to promote workforce education to political leaders and the business community
- Financial assistance to secure funding for program activities, internships, and scholarships