During the past several years the Education Program Staff have visited detention centers, participated in national training programs, spent quality time with nationally noted detention education specialists, and invited various educational consultants to work with us in order to gather information on what successful, high-performance detention center education programs should look like in the 21st Century.

Our Intent

It is our intent to create a rich, literate learning environment for every student in our facility. We continue to review the literature and research on best practices and learning theory as it applies to the education program for the Lancaster County Youth Services Center. Another component of our program planning was to create a name that would accurately reflect and describe our philosophy, mission, goals, and student performance expectations.

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We decided that the name Pathfinder would best describe our program as we are creating paths, routes, or courses that our youth can explore to become successful citizens.

Philosophy Statement

The Pathfinder Education Program is a dual- focus program that embraces the concepts found in the Lincoln Public Schools Philosophy Statement, the Statement of Purpose, and Goals for Students as well as the Academic Requirements and the Philosophy and the Mission Statement of the Pathfinder Education Program. The education program supports both of these documents as individuals requiring confinement remain students of the Lincoln Public Schools.

Mission Statement

The students in the Pathfinder Education Program have diverse backgrounds, interests, needs, and academic records. It is the mission of the education program to provide educational opportunities that allow students the opportunity to enhance basic academic skills, technology, career options, and develop personal growth skills through individualized instructional programs of study. The education program introduces multiple pathways which might include earning credits toward completing a high school diploma, preparation for the General Education Diploma (GED) testing, and Skills needed for lifelong learning.

Professional Staff

The professional staff maintains and monitors an instructional program that follows the Lincoln Public Schools course of study and is available to all youth confined within the Lancaster County Youth Services Center.

The professional staff develops an individually prescribed educational program that will allow the student to do credit recovery work, GED preparation work/testing, and post-high school work.


  • Students demonstrate the improvement of knowledge and understanding of the basic skills subjects, technology, and career education as required by the Lincoln Public Schools course of study.
  • Students develop skills and attitudes essential to return to the mainstream school setting, to enter into an alternative setting, to enter into the job market, and enter to the community.

Student Performance Expectations

In order to meet the expectations of the Pathfinder Education Program and Lincoln Public Schools, each student is provided the opportunity to access the regular curriculum of the Lincoln Public Schools. The opportunity to learn and recover credit in regular school courses is accomplished through individually designed educational plans: Upon entry into the Pathfinder Education Program the student will:

  • Work at his/her ability level in an individualized education program which accurately reflects the student's level of achievement in relation to the Lincoln Public Schools course of study for credit and graduation or prepare for the General Education Diploma.
  • Work in the education program as designed by the professional staff within the time constraints of the judicial system.
  • Show evidence of understanding and skill acquisition as reflected in classroom work, homework, and testing as required by the professional staff.
  • Demonstrate awareness of the Pathfinder Education Program and Lincoln Public Schools policies, procedures, rules and regulations in order to take the opportunity to do credit recovery work, make up incomplete assignments, and prepare for the GED and/or post-secondary work in order to maximize educational opportunities provided by the Pathfinder Education program.

Pathfinder Organization

The education program for the Lancaster County Youth Services Center is provided through an intergovernmental agreement between Lincoln Public Schools Educational Service Unit and Lancaster County. Funding for the program comes from the Nebraska Health and Human Services Department and Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The annual budget for the education program is approved by the Lancaster County Board, the School Board, and the Department of Health and Human Services. The education staff is composed of an administrator, teachers, secretary, and paraeducators who are employees of Lincoln Public Schools and Educational Service Unit 18. All teachers are selected through the human resources department of the school district and are certificated through the State of Nebraska.