Pathfinder Design

The Pathfinder Program is a comprehensive program which meets the individual needs of youth in detention. In the initial stages of building and program planning, it became apparent that youth, teachers, and agency staff needed to have the best possible building design and the environment as well as access to technology as we planned to make a positive difference in the lives of the youth we meet.

Education Area

The education area for the new facility was designed to implement this comprehensive program and still maintain the safety and security necessary to the facility. Included in the building planning are two special rooms designed for testing, individual work, and time-out use for youth struggling with behavior or circumstances surrounding detainment. Also included is a special designed room for life skills and science which contains kitchen and laundry appliances, specially designed space for science activities, and the necessary space for community volunteers to work with the youth. All instructional areas and living units have computers with internet access, closed-circuit television, VCRs, and access to the cable system.


At the heart of the education program are the teachers. The need for an educated staff that has a special place or heart for high at-risk youth is a foundational concept; the staff expectations include caring, compassion, flexibility, and an understanding of the unique needs of youth as they move through the regular school programs and the juvenile justice system. Additionally, the program design is based on the concept of being multiple phases or multiple entry and exit program design for each youth. Because each youth come to us with gaps in their educational development, we need to identify needs as quickly as possible and design individual educational plans to meet those needs. We know all of the youth will leave our program better off than when they entered it.

Core Program

Our core program includes:

  • Computer Skills
  • English
  • Health
  • Math
  • Physical Education
  • Science
  • Social Studies

Regular School Curriculum & Graduation Path

These are designed to run parallel with the regular school curriculum or graduation path. Research shows that youth in detention need a rich, literate, intensive information environment as well as individualized instruction. To meet these needs, the Pathfinder Education Program includes:

  • Career Planning
  • Computer-Assisted Instruction
  • Fine Arts
  • GED
  • Life Skills
  • Reading
  • Special Education

Low Teacher-Student Ratio

In reviewing learning theory and what can be applied to youth in our setting, it is imperative that a low teacher-student ratio become part of the school plan. Since we are in a short-term setting, teacher-student relationships have to be developed as quickly as possible. Behavior research indicates that high trust relationships will assist in moving the youth into accepting instruction with confidence in the learning process and skill acquisition. Brain research as applied to the high-risk youth in our setting lead to the development and implementation of a six-period day, forty-minute class periods to address time on task, attention span, and a learning environment that promotes and encourages the acquisition of strong, positive learning skills. Please visit the School Wellness Policy for more information.

Year-Round Education

Our education program is year-round as youth move into the detention setting continuously. Within the behavior management plan for our setting, school attendance is mandatory with the expectation that work will be accomplished according to students' individual skill and ability levels. Therefore, it is important that credit recovery be an incentive so youth may earn credit while in this setting. Lincoln Public Schools offers course credit for work completed that meets the standards of the district curriculum and the Pathfinder Program. Credit earned and attendance record becomes part of each youth's permanent school file.