NTC's After-School Program Expands to Three Area Schools

November 28, 2011

Seventh grade science teacher Mary Herrington dreamed bringing hope to her middle school students. At Culler Middle School, where she teaches, faculty learned that most of their students lacked hope according to a Gallup poll. With the reported lack of hopelessness, Herrington wanted to bring a program to restore the hope in the classroom.

Her dreams came true after she submitted a proposal to the Nebraska Transportation Center (NTC) to establish a transportation engineering club at Culler. The club, better known as "Roads, Rails and Race Cars," was added to Lincoln Public Schools Community Learning Centers program last year.

This year, NTC extended the opportunity to three other Lincoln schools. Those schools are Mickle Middle School, Lefler Middle School and the program's first high school North Star. Valerie Lefler and Nebraska Department of Education (NDE)'s Anthony Glenn met with CLC directors across the LPS district to discuss the expansion a few month ago. Lefler is the program coordinator of NTC and the Mid- America Transportation Center (MATC). Glenn is the director of skilled and technical sciences career field for NDE. The Garrett A. Morgan Technology and Transportation Education grant made this opportunity possible.

The "Roads, Rails and Race Cars Club" is under the Next Generation Inspiration Program for Careers in Transportation, which is sponsored by this $100,000 grant. The program is also supported by MATC and the Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools (CYFS).

Herrington, who has participated in MATC's Summer Institute for the past six years, was delighted to bring these lessons back her school through this club. The science teacher says she was excited "to bring those experiences to life" for her students.

The program introduces students to the world transportation engineering by hands-on activities and career exploration. It also strives to connect diverse groups of students and staff especially those who not well-represented in the field. Lefler said NTC is "trying to paint a broad picture of what transportation is to the students hands-on through math and science." The club currently teaches from 50 pre-made lessons plans, but NTC encourages those involved in the program to tailor the lessons to their classrooms.

Herrington said she already had students inquire about the program before its kick-off earlier this year. She contributes the students' improved leadership skills, confidence and interest in science to the club. The teacher said she believed the students' involvement in the program helped boost the school's state science test scores this past year.

NTC's "Roads, Rails and Race Cars Club" plans to hopes to expand to more middle and high schools in the future.
To learn more about NTC and MATC's educational initiatives, research or programs, visit

To see a feature on "Roads, Rails and Race Cars," click here.