Introducing High School Career Academies

At Denver Christian, an important part of our vision statement is to provide education where “students flourish every day in every way.” We don’t take for granted the magnitude of that vision. We know that differentiating learning and experiences for students isn’t easy, but is an essential part of equipping students to pursue their calling and transform the world in their own unique way. This year, we are excited to announce the launch of career academies in our high school as a tangible way for students to explore their unique calling.

What is a career academy?

A Career Academy is an optional certificate program that allows Denver Christian High School students the opportunity to explore a career while they are still in high school. Each Career Academy will offer a blend of academy-specific courses, online career exploration courses, college dual credit classes, and internships, that are introductions to a major and/or career field.

What options are there? 

Currently, we are offering three academies: Business and Entrepreneurship, Health Care, and STEM. (We look forward to also offering a STEM Audio-Visual Lighting (AVLi) academy soon.) 

Why offer Career Academies? 

While the details of what we are now offering are exciting, the why behind this shift is essential. First, we want to truly prepare students for their future.  Parents across the US have noticed that students often graduate without being properly prepared for their next steps. Jon Baker (HS Business & Entrepreneurial Coordinator & Teacher) explains, “According to surveys, 71% of American parents believe schools should rethink how to best teach students.” 

“Our programs are beginning the conversation for their future.”

Amy Kleager, High School Teacher & Athletic Trainer

Amy Kleager (HS Teacher & Athletic Trainer) explains: “We are seeing colleges that are shifting to programs that begin students in specific career fields starting, freshman year in college. For example, students can enter nursing programs, PA, and physical therapy programs starting their freshman year.” Students coming from a traditional high school experience might have had a few high school courses related to that program. But, they often need more preparation to truly thrive. Amy says, “Weed to help equip and educate our students to start thinking if these specific routes in Business or health care are for them.  Our programs are beginning the conversation for their future.” Career Academies allow students to explore their calling, equipped with real-world experience and courses that set them up best for their future. 

“Every good endeavor, even the simplest ones, pursued in response to God’s calling, can matter forever.”

Tim Keller

What can a student expect in a Career Academy? 

Choosing a career academy allows students to explore their interests in a more focused way, even if they are not 100% certain of what career trajectory they want to pursue. For example, Amy had a student who was unclear of his direction in college. However, through navigating his injuries as an athlete, taking classes with Amy, and working as a student trainer, he realized that he wanted to pursue athletic training. He is now a student trainer for his college football team, thriving, and excited about his future. This is partially due to his exposure to his career field at Denver Christian. 

An example of student career preparation is our NSCA CPT course. Our Wellness and performance Coordinator, Coach Shane Miller, is offering a course Certified Personal Trainer course in the Spring Term (starting in 2024). In this course, students will gain expertise in designing fitness programs, develop a strong foundation in exercise physiology and biomechanics, etc. This course prepares students to take the NSCA exam to become a certified person strainer. This qualification allows students to work in fitness training environments. This is also fantastic preparation for pursuing a career in medicine, physical therapy, coaching, etc. 

Jon Baker emphasizes that part of what makes our Career Academies special is how they are crafted to teach students soft skills. We emphasize the entrepreneurial mindset, growth mindset, innovative thinking, resilience, opportunity seeking, and redefining failure around learning and growth. For example, our Business & Entrepreneurship Academy doesn’t just prepare students how to run a particular business. Instead, students learn about the “redemptive opportunities in business and entrepreneurship will help them learn how their unique purpose or calling to love aligns with their abilities to solve complex challenges in serving God’s kingdom.”

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