The TCALC Connection

Connecting Students to Industry through CTE, Feb. 2019

A Message from Dr. Murrell, TCALC Principal

Welcome to the February edition of The TCALC Connection! This month, as we share information about the good things that are happening at The Topeka Center for Advanced Learning and Careers, we join our colleagues, nationwide, in celebrating National Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month.

Locally, the Mayoral Proclamation of CTE Month will be presented at the Board of Education meeting on February 7, 2019. Additionally, we have prepared and disseminated a CTE Month Calendar to all of our schools, so that administrators and teachers will have information to increase student awareness of CTE and to encourage students to develop the academic, technical and employability skills needed for college and career success.

Here are some interesting facts, about CTE for high school students, contained in research conducted by the Association for Career and Technical Education:

  • Taking one CTE class for every two academic classes minimizes the risk of students dropping out of high school.

  • The average high school graduation rate for students concentrating in CTE programs is 93 percent, compared to an average national freshman graduation rate of 80 percent.

  • 91 percent of high school graduates who earned 2-3 CTE credits enrolled in college.

Thanks to our colleagues throughout the District, as well as our business/industry partners, our CTE students are learning and demonstrating, daily, the academic and technical skills essential for postsecondary and workplace success.

Happy CTE Month!

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TCALC Tours are Open to the Community, Families, and Prospective Students

TCALC will be conducting tours, sharing information about the Pathways, and introducing guests to our staff. Everyone is invited to join in on a tour. Tours typically last 45 minutes to an hour.

Feb 14 and 28th, 9:45am and 3:15pm

Mar 7, 21, and 28th 9:45am and 3:15pm

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2019-20 NEW TCALC Pathways: Law & Public Safety, Interactive Media, and Computer Science

Law & Public Safety

Students will learn and grow from experts while participating in field visits to municipal, state and federal courthouses; juvenile detention center and prisons; crime scene labs; tactical support teams (SWAT); firearms range; local and federal law enforcement departments (ATF, DEA, FBI, US Secret Service); fire departments; state and federal prosecutors’ offices; judges; local law firms; policy makers; public and private social service agencies. Students will expand their understanding and experiences of the varied and diverse careers opportunities and tracks of our American Justice System from experts, practitioners, mentors, and experiential projects. The courses include the basics of legal topics of constitutional issues, criminal law, ethics, torts, contracts, family and juvenile law. Students will be exposed to broad concepts of our justice system through in depth case study approach of past and historical cases plus current, live trials as well as legal research and writing. An introductory course will be offered at THWS, THS, and HPHS for underclassmen and juniors and seniors can take the full pathway at TCALC.

Interactive Media

The Interactive Media Pathway is in the Arts, A/V Communications Career Cluster. As such, it includes a strong foundation in arts and communication with particular emphasis on design, graphic and media communications, interactive technologies, and project development. Interactive Media teaches the technical skills needed to work with electronic media. Additional topics include exploring the use of digital media and video today and in the future, a study of the relationship of work flow to project planning and completion and the software, equipment and tools used in the industry.

Computer Science

The Computer Science Pathway is in the Information Technology Career Cluster. This pathway introduces students to the foundational concepts of computer science and explores the impact computing and technology have on our society. Students learn about the internet, digital information, programming, data, and apply these concepts through creative projects, while building their portfolio. Other topics of study include coding, cybersecurity, and programming and software development.

Go to for more information.

Students Assemble New 3D Printers

TCALC is pleased to announce the establishment of a 3D Printer Lab as a part of the Engineering and Applied Math Pathway. This lab and Computer Aided Design (CAD) skills will be featured in a semester-long Engineering Design course that will begin next fall and will also be a part of all existing engineering courses. Additionally, the lab will be utilized by all other TCALC pathways as they receive instruction in basic 3D printing techniques and they print pathway-related items.

Students in this year’s Engineering Applications classes have gained in-depth knowledge of 3D printer design and functions as they have assembled the Ender 3 printers that will populate the lab. Their instructional unit on 3D printing includes assembly of the printers, printer operations and object design. They will also be designing and delivering instruction to all other TCALC students on the science of 3D printing and the operation of the printers.

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Project Management Hits the Web & Digital Pathway!

A course that our pathway has never offered before is called "Project Management". A long time TPS partner, Federal Home Loan Bank, welcomed Madison Cobb & Matthew Caudill, both THS seniors, for an afternoon of shadowing this Project Management concept. We now have several students pioneering this application level course with project simulations and in house internships, as well as outside partnerships and Professional Learning Experiences (PLEs). In the PLEs students gain real-world experiences, learning how to budget time for each project, recognizing, scheduling and acquiring different types of resources, identifying who on their team would best would work on a particular project and countless workplace problem solving skills. Depending on the PLE, we have different types, lengths, projects and partners. Students are practicing and enhancing the hard and soft skills employers expect, as well as those that will be marketable in their future.

Ropes, Webbing, and Knots

TCALC’s Emergency and Fire Science Pathway students experienced an up close and personal training, as they teamed up with members of Topeka Fire Department's Confined Space and High Angle Rescue Team, of Topeka Fire Station 11.

The training, “Ropes, Webbing, and Knots” not only afforded hands on opportunities for student learning, it also addressed multiple competencies (required learning for the students) and drill training for members of the department.

American Heart Association & Stormont Vail Hospital Certify Students

Medical Professions, Sport Medicine, and Emergency & Fire Management students were recently certified in “Stop the Bleed” and “Hands Only CPR”. Mr. Matt Olthoff, American Heart Association Coordinator of Education and Development Specialist from Stormont Vail Hospital, taught the students valuable skills in preparation for the Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and Automated External Defibrillator (AED) certification. Providing medical knowledge that will aid students in an emergency, as well as preparation for future studies or professions is key, as students prepare for their post secondary studies.
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Web & Digital Students Take the Snow Day to "Go in to Work!"

When the Topeka area students were snowed in on January 23, these top students were preparing for their biggest client meeting of the year. The students are re-creating Topeka High's website, which is the biggest Professional Learning Experience of the pathway. They decided they needed to meet on the snow day even though school was called off. They held a FaceTime conference to discuss items to prepare for the meeting. Angelica Comahig (Webmaster), Madison Cobb & Matthew Caudill used their technology to be sure they were ready for the meeting that was held on January 24th. Kudos to these students who are getting a taste of the real world and expectations beyond the classroom!

Shawnee County Board of Education Presidents Toured TCALC & Served Four Course Meal

The Baking and Pastry Arts Management Pathway was privileged to serve the Shawnee County Board of Education Presidents a four course meal, with a formal setting. Proper place settings, serving etiquette and manners were all an emphasis in this hands on experience. The menu included a fresh garden salad, traditional four-layer lasagna, lemon sorbet and dark chocolate Mayan mousse with chocolate dipped strawberries.

The Presidents toured TCALC and learned about the plethora of opportunities for students.

Student Highlight: Cameron Cropper Reflects on Earning $28,000 Engineering Scholarship

The competition was the Wallace Invitational for Scholarships in Engineering and was the highest valued engineering scholarship at Wichita State University. Twelve $28,500 scholarships were going to be given away out of the generosity of the Wallace family, who had a significant impact on the engineering traditions at Wichita State decades ago.

When I first walked into that ballroom on Friday morning, it felt a lot smaller than it actually was. It was packed full of over 200 other students wanting the same thing that I wanted. It was said to be a record number of participants that year as well. Not to mention I didn’t know anybody else there, so I felt alone. But, the competition was simple. The first part of the competition was to work together in a small group to design something based off of a prompt that was given to our group. Our group would only be allowed to utilize some simple materials that were in a paper bag on our table when we started, and our prompt was to design something that would help a person without the use of a leg navigate their home with comfort and ease. Going into this design portion, I knew that I would have to use the soft skills that Mrs. Eubank, my engineering and applied mathematics teacher at TCALC, taught me at the beginning of the school year. Some of the skills were communication, problem-solving, teamwork, adaptability, creativity, leadership, and several others and she emphasized how useful these would be in a professional environment. I used all of those skills that I mentioned in the design portion of the competition. Because of this, my group was proudly able to present a prototypical prosthetic leg that actually able to stand on its own.

The second part of the competition was a written essay. That was an individual portion, and the prompt for the essay asked why I wanted to become an engineer. As an aspiring aerospace engineer, I knew exactly what I wanted to say, but I believe that the general reason that everyone wants to become an engineer is that they want to benefit the world. So, that’s what I said.

For someone who is wanting to participate in a competition similar to this, I would tell them that the key to succeeding and standing out is understanding professional soft skills and utilizing them as well as being genuine. Showing the soft skills are more important in group competitions because it’s almost like an interview, which is another setting in which one would use those skills. Being true to oneself is more important in essays because readers of those essays are looking for something unique whereas if you use cliches and general responses then you’re not going to stand out from everyone else competing. If you don’t stand out then you’re just going to be another name that gets tossed aside. But, if you’re there competing, that means that you have the ability that it takes to win.

Staff Highlight: Meet Mr. Ed Wilkerson, Sports Medicine Instructor

Mr. Wilkerson is in his first year as an instructor in Topeka Public Schools. He is at the helm of the Sports Medicine Pathway at TCALC. Mr. Wilkerson enjoys teaching and discussing Sports Medicine topics, especially those dealing with musculoskeletal injury care. He is able to share experiences from a variety of healthcare settings, with his pathway students. His professional background includes teaching and coaching at the community college and university level, clinician and high school outreach specialist, as well as military and industrial settings. Early in his career, he received valuable initial healthcare training and experience, as a Medical Technician/EMT, in the U.S. Air Force. Mr. Wilkerson is a member of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association and the Kansas Athletic Trainers’ Society. He maintains a national certification through the NATA BOC and state licensure through the KSBHA. He enjoys spending time with his wife, Sandy, and daughter, Emilia. He also enjoys fishing, cycling, fantasy sports, and most outdoor activities.

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Calling Future Educators

Past Teaching as a Profession students have attended the Kansas Future Teacher Academy at Emporia State University (ESU), sponsored by The Teachers College and directed by the Jones Institute for Educational Excellence. Since 1989, when the first academy had the honor of receiving the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) Christa McAuliffe Showcase for Excellence Award, the Future Teacher Academy at ESU has provided select students with the opportunity to learn more about the challenges and rewards of teaching and has become recognized as an established and highly respected educational opportunity for students throughout the state of Kansas. Current (2018-2019) Kansas high school freshmen, sophomores, and juniors are eligible to apply. There is NO commitment to attend ESU after graduating from high school! For more information click here
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Behind the Trojan Cup

In 2017, Topeka High School Sophomore Madison Jacques was enrolled in Mr. Murray Moore’s Entrepreneurship class, however she didn't plan to stick around for the second semester of the course. “I never saw myself as someone who would benefit from this class.” Madison said. “But Mr. Moore helped me realize how the lessons of the class transfer to the real world. Finding something I could actually do, finding a business I could structure, is what motivated me to keep going.”

In years past, an idea to open a coffee shop within THS had been brewing, and with the support of a new principal, Ms. Rebecca Morrisey, Mr. Moore knew Madison could give it the steam it needed to forge ahead. Mr. Moore pitched the idea and then he let Madison run with it. After agreeing to take the second semester of his class, Madison fine-tuned her business plan, attended several meetings and made an impressive case for the coffee shop to all the right people. She met with contractors, administrators and suppliers. After all her hard work, and with the support of Ms. Morrisey and great partners like PT’s Coffee, Mr. Bob Carmichael-Perkins Restaurant, Coach Cacy Klumpp-Wellness Coach & Express Professionals Recruiter, Mr. Joe Pennington-Stevenson Company Inc and several past alumni classes, the Trojan Cup Coffee Shop opened inside Topeka High School after Thanksgiving break. With Madison at the helm, she is responsible for the day-to-day operations including the hiring of staff, training, and inventory. The shop is a 100% student-run business, where “employees” can receive compensation in the form of class credit, volunteer hours and can even apply for scholarships based on essays they complete about their work experience. For Madison, the entire process has been an incredible learning experience. “I think the most important thing I have learned so far is that the key is partnerships, you can only do so much. People are often a big part of what you are waiting on, but once you have all the right people in place, you can get it done.” she said. "For the Trojan Cup Coffee Shop, Madison Jacques is the right kid", says Mr. Moore. The Trojan Cup Coffee Shop is an experiential based learning experience open to all students, contact Mr. Moore at for additional information.

THS and TWHS Photography Students Place at the Scholastic Art Awards

2019 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. Submissions that received Silver or Gold Key Awards will be featured at the MARK Arts exhibition in Wichita from February 1 through March 23. The students whose work is awarded at the regional level are eligible to compete for national awards in New York City. Congratulations to students:
    • Eli Perez, Topeka West – Two Golden Key Awards and Silver Key Award
    • Taber Schrock, Topeka West – Gold Key Award
    • Robert Sinner, Topeka West – Gold Key Award
    • McKenzie Noble, Topeka West – Silver Key Award
    • Madison Stratman, Topeka West – Two Silver Key Awards and Honorable Mention
    • Dylan Tripe, Topeka High – Silver Key Award

Sample pieces below:

Business Education Opportunities

Did you know that every TPS High School offers multiple business courses for our students? We have three business pathways to select from: Marketing, Finance, and Management. Students who are interested in learning more about these courses are encouraged to visit with the business teachers at their high schools. Courses include:

Introductory Level:

  • Intro to Business and Career & Life Planning

Technical Level:

  • Consumer & Personal Finance
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Principles of Marketing
  • Sports & Entertainment Marketing
  • Business Communications
  • Accounting I & II
  • Business Management
  • Business Economics
  • Business Law

Application Level:

  • Applied Business Management
  • Marketing Applications
  • Advanced Accounting
  • Banking & Finance
  • Investing

Supporting career pathways include: Web & Digital Communications, Restaurant & Event Management, and A/V Communications. However, it is important to note that ALL professionals have a vested interest in business!

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