Work-based learning offers unique opportunities for TSD students
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 tsd.org/wbl.
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.