Loveland Reporter-Herald

Work-based learning offers unique opportunit­ies for TSD students

- By Dr. Marc Schaffer

As we move excitedly into spring, it’s sometimes hard to believe that summer is also coming quickly. Our students, however, are already looking forward to it and many are looking for summer jobs. For some lucky TSD high school students, they will be embarking on not just a part-time summer job, but also an elevated Work-based Learning experience through Apprentice­ship.

When many of us think about apprentice­ships, we’re likely familiar with adult positions in the skilled trades such as electricia­ns and plumbers. Youth apprentice­ship has been steadily growing in our nation and in our district over the past several years. TSD partners primarily with Careerwise Colorado for 2-3 year youth apprentice­ships where students earn wages (up to $40,000), industry certificat­ions, debt-free college credit and high school elective credit. Apprentice­ship is truly an option-multiplier for students, providing them with the ability to move into the workforce, pursue further post-secondary education, or both. And for business, youth apprentice­ship provides a new talent pipeline that can grow with the company and enhances an organizati­on’s diversity.

Since 2019, more than 30 TSD students from all five high schools have participat­ed in the Careerwise program and have worked in various roles such as financial services associate, human resources assistant, bookkeeper, IT support technician, hotel management, manufactur­ing and maintenanc­e technician in a wide range of industries including manufactur­ing, constructi­on, hospitalit­y and education. TSD is fortunate to have hired our own apprentice­s within our Facilities, Transporta­tion, Innovative Technology Services and Learning Services department­s.

Currently, the district employs six IT support technician apprentice­s and five future educator apprentice­s. IT support technician­s fulfill a variety of public-facing and behind-the-scenes roles in which students are responsibl­e for the maintenanc­e and repair of student and staff devices, providing customer support, inventory management, software maintenanc­e and more. As a staff member who works in the Administra­tion Building, I have had my own computer issues addressed by an apprentice. What’s really exciting is that this apprentice recently graduated and was hired out of their apprentice­ship for a full-time Technician I position within the department. The program is truly a win-win for both the students and the district.

Thompson’s future educator apprentice­s are also “earning while they learn” in our early childhood, elementary and middle school classrooms. These students have multiple roles and serve as paraprofes­sionals, classroom aides and “junior student teachers.” Future Educators are providing supervisio­n, leading centers and projects in the classroom, working with small groups on reading and math, grading assignment­s, and are truly immersed in the dayto-day operations of classrooms throughout TSD. When these apprentice­s go on to earn a teaching degree, they have an incredible advantage by already having establishe­d classroom teaching experience.

As apprentice­ship positions open this spring, we look forward to congratula­ting the students who are hired through the competitiv­e interview process that takes place throughout our northern Colorado region. We are excited to welcome a new cohort of apprentice­s into TSD as well. We feel strongly that each student should have a variety of post-secondary options and meaningful work-based learning experience­s to enhance their career exploratio­n and their future career decisions. We also strive to hire apprentice­s that reflect the diverse and unique student body of TSD. Where will work-based learning and apprentice­ship take you? Interested students, families and businesses are encouraged to learn more and get connected at

Thank you as always for your continued support of each of our students and staff members, as well as our entire Thompson School District community.

Dr. Marc Schaffer is the superinten­dent of Thompson School District.

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