Advocating For Career Opportunities

New Maize Career Academy director Lindsay King brings together classroom education opportunities paired with real life experiences as her focus for the academy’s future.

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Photo by Shiah McLain

Robotics student Keaton Stwalley (10) shows Lindsay King his work during a 1st Block class as he codes a robot to run more autonomously on Monday, April 19. Robotics is just one of the hands on classes at the MCA that King strives to make more available for students of both Maize High and Maize South.

Bridget Johnson, Bullseye Reporter

A childhood in California. A leap to the Air Force Academy in Colorado. A two year stay at the McConnell Air Force Base. A short trip to Honduras and then to Turkey. A trip to Italy to begin teaching. Finally, back to the United States to end up at the Maize Career Academy (MCA).

Lindsay King’s journey towards becoming the director of the MCA was long with several mini journey’s, but it has made a lasting impact on students from both Maize High and Maize South in a short time.

Between her history in the military to her experience being a new mom during the pandemic, Lindsay King is a role model for anyone that knows her. 

King served in the military for several years, both in the U.S. at McConnell Air Force Base and overseas in Honduras and Turkey. Her military background gave her experience working in a group and delegating tasks to others to get tasks done efficiently. 

Lindsay King talks to Trisha Meese about all the different opportunities at the MCA. Running the MCA requires King to interact with all of the people that help with the day to day well being of the MCA. “I think you have to rely on others. I think, whether you’re working on a team like doing a project or you are trying to balance being part of your family and working on school,” said King. “And for me, being an administrator, you have to rely on other people.” (Photo by Shiah McLain)

“I kind of had the opportunity to be a leader kind of early in my life and kind of get the opportunity to practice some leadership skills, working with others, kind of relying on others to do their very best and empowering them in their positions to do the best that they can,” said King.

After the military, King decided the best option for her at that time was to transition to serving the community in a different way: teaching. After spending nearly three years overseas and away from family, King decided to move back to the US from Italy and began her education career at Derby High School as their Career and Technical Education director.

When the director position opened for the Maize Career Academy last spring upon Dr. Rathbun’s retirement, King jumped at the chance to help students explore careers while in high school and build a program around the specific needs of students. 

“I saw the position come up for the Career Academy and just thought “that is exactly where I wanted to be,” said King. “Kind of just providing opportunities for all students is important to me and I feel like that’s what we can do at the Career Academy.”

In terms of what exactly the MCA has accomplished, it has gone above and beyond the original plans with the help of Lindsay King in less than a year. Though many of the elective and CTE classes are still being molded, the different classes prepare students for real life situations and allow them to experience different career options.

“It just kind of gives you an opportunity to get a feel for what that rigor is going to be like and the expectations, what they’re going to be like for you, for what you do after graduation,” said King.

Our teachers are experts in the classes that they’re teaching and no one knows more about their subject than they do and I just feel like helping them be the best teacher that they can be and having everything they need.”

— Lindsay King

Cara Poole, a culinary teacher at the Maize Career Academy, doesn’t know how the MCA would be without King and the support she provides for teachers and students alike, especially with a school year unlike any other.

“She’s not a micromanager but she also supports big ideas. I feel like a class that would be amazing to teach all year and would benefit our students and our community, we get to teach all year next year,” said Poole. “It’s been basically a dream to do that.”

Despite a busy schedule, King hopes students from both schools know she is available to talk to them about anything they need. She often visits classrooms on Fridays and continually has an open door to her office.

“I hope that students see me as someone they can come to when they need help, whether it’s help figuring out which courses they should be taking or what opportunities are out there, or just because they need someone to listen to them,” said King. “I just hope that students know I’m open and available to them and that they’re the most important thing to me.”

Some students, such as the Niemann brothers from Maize South, use the MCA career exploration program to begin working towards their future career at a younger age than they would otherwise be able to. King’s future vision includes career exploration programs that start as young as kindergarten for USD 266 students.

“There’s the two brothers that are taking fire science, EMT, and phlebotomy courses and I think that they know what they want to do after they graduate,” said King. “They’ve really been able to do what they needed to do while they were in high school and kind of really take advantage of this year.”

King believes that students make the best mentors and will be influential among themselves, so students such as the Niemann brothers that know what they want to do and how to get themselves prepared for it are the heart and soul of the MCA.

“It’s really great for other students to be mentors for other students. I think, whether it’s because you’ve taken courses and you know what you want to do, you can show other students what that looks like or you’ve had an internship and you want to tell other students about it.”

Q&A with Noah Byer-OneMa1ze Broadcasting

The MCA allows students to experience real life scenarios, prepare them for the real world, and inspire others to keep reaching for their dreams. Lindsay King sees these students as an inspiration and will keep working to make career exploration even more readily available.

“It’s really just being in our hub and hearing the sounds of like, the airplane being built or the robotics team practicing, or the smells coming out of the kitchen. I just think the opportunity to experience all those things, I normally walk in and there’ll be like pieces for the anatomy student to be looking at,” said King. “I feel like students give us hope that there’s something next you know? They have their dreams, they have their goals, they have their plans and I think just their ability to do what it takes to get where they need to get, I think has really inspired me this year.”