School work to real work: Delavan-Darien High School restarting its apprenticeship program

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Catherine W. Idzerda
Saturday, April 19, 2014

DELAVAN—For many middle- and high-school students, the connection between what they do in school and what goes on in the “real world” is practically nonexistent.

For instance: It's difficult to believe they will ever use Algebra again.

This fall, an apprenticeship program at Delavan-Darien High School will change all that.

In the past, Delavan-Darien was part of a consortium of schools that operated apprenticeship program approved by the Department of Public Instruction. That consortium dissolved, but it is now being re-formed with Gateway Technical College as its leader, said Cindy Yager, coordinator of careers and occupations for the district.

Yager said the program is part of the district's strategic plan. In particular, it is part of the plan which focuses on student transitions between high school and college or careers.

The apprenticeship will offer two levels of intensity.

The one-year program requires a minimum of 450 hours of “work-based” learning and two semesters of related classroom instruction, according to a news release from the district. The two-year program requires four semesters of related classroom instruction and 900 hours of work-based learning.

“This program is for students who are really motivated,” Yager said.

Students interested in the apprenticeship program must have a minimum of 12 credits, be on track for graduation, have a grade point average of at least 2.0 and have no incompletes or failures from previous semesters.

“This first year we're going to be kind of hand-picking students,” Yager said. 

As those students move through the apprenticeship, teachers and staff will start to talk about the program with freshmen, sophomores and middle school students.

For students who are less motivated academically, the program will help them see the definite connection between schoolwork and the real world. In order to get into the program, they'll have to be responsible about their schoolwork and demonstrate they are mature enough to work in the community.

“The core curriculum is at the center of this,” Yager said.

In other words, students will need a solid background in math, science and written and oral communication.

Students will be able to make the connections between higher-level math and what goes on in engineering, manufacturing or tourism.

The apprenticeship will be run similar to internships, but positions will be paid. In addition, coursework conducted at Gateway might also qualify students for certifications in different fields such as welding or nursing.

Yager already has several businesses interested in taking on apprentices, but she's looking for more.

For more information about the program, businesses can call Yager at (262) 728-2642, ext. 4420, or email cyager@ddschools.org. 



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