From postcrescent.com: “FVTC program a new path to restarting a troubled life” — Mike Bartelt decided it was time for a change. A big one.

After dropping out of school at 16, struggling with a longtime alcohol addiction, an attempted suicide and two stints in prison — the most recent ending in October for his fifth OWI — the Appleton man said he was “sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

“I need to make something out of my life because I have a daughter and three grandkids,” said Bartelt, 50, a recovering alcoholic. “I’ve been a loser all my life and I’ve got to change. No one’s going to change it for me.”

Bartelt may not be able to create a new beginning to his life, but he’s taking a shot at a better ending thanks in part to a new program at the Grand Chute-based Fox Valley Technical College that helps Adult Basic Education (ABE) students by breaking down barriers that exist outside of education.

Bartelt is working on his GED, and on May 15 will be certified as a transport trailer service technician through FVTC’s 18-week program. He has been recruited by Master Fleet, and has been working second shift there for more than six weeks while finishing out classes.

After living most recently at the COTS men’s shelter in Appleton, Bartelt has moved into his own apartment in Neenah that’s close to his job.

“That’s what I get for asking for help,” he said with a laugh.

Bartelt’s pathway to success was made possible by a Barriers grant from the J.J. Keller Foundation that was awarded to FVTC last fall. The foundation was looking for an out-of-the-box idea to support with a $46,000 grant for a pilot cycle.

“We brainstormed, and after talking, we thought, we can pay for tuition but what about the things that prevent students from getting to school like clothing, haircuts and hygiene products,” said Chuck Wachter, FVTC client reporting and grants specialist and a member of the ABE leadership team.

Or simply having enough gas in the car to make the trek to class.

“We look at it as there is no barrier except your motivation,” said Wachter, who carries and answers the “barriers” cell phone 24/7.

The program fits well with the J.J. Keller Foundation’s mission to serve economically and academically disadvantaged students.

“It is designed to provide (students) with the skills necessary to gain and maintain employment that provides a life-sustaining wage,” Keller Foundation executive director Mary Harp-Jirschele said.

Bartelt received grants to pay for school, but needed funding for the tools required in the transport trailer program as well as other needs. That’s when he learned he was eligible for a Barriers grant, which provided more than just funding.

“Normally ABE students are kind of on their own,” Wachter said. “By grouping them together we’ve seen them grow such a tremendous bond with one another and they are using each other to overcome barriers. It just blew up and it was amazing. It’s not even the money that we had to put towards it. It’s the money and the attention and putting this group together.”

Participants in the program also are required to pay it forward by mentoring the next group of students and volunteering at area nonprofits. Bartelt volunteers at Loaves & Fishes of the Fox Valley through his church, Trinity Lutheran in Appleton.

The pay-it-forward philosophy is one of the most compelling reasons the Keller Foundation backed the Barriers program.

“Students have taken it upon themselves to volunteer at local agencies, which not only allows them to give back to the community, but to gain self-confidence and self-empowerment in the process,” Harp-Jirschele said.

Wachter, who has learned how to make dollars stretch, knew a new set of tools for Bartelt would retail for about $6,000, but “one way or another we were getting Mike these tools,” he said. “We get him through this education and his only barrier is the tools? We’re going to power through this one.”

Wachter bought tools that were going up for auction at FVTC for $200. It was about 75 percent of what Bartelt needed. The rest was supplemented through the Barriers grant.

“The money saved can now go back to other students,” said Wachter, who’s also lined up a deep discount at Kohl’s for students in need of work clothing and a dentist to offer discounted exams. Aerotech, a staffing agency in Appleton, has agreed to interview each student and offer individual feedback.

“The whole goal is to get them working and doing things on their own,” Wachter said.

Based on the success of the Barriers program, the Keller Foundation has agreed to a $45,000 grant for the second cycle.

“The results of the first year of the program was evidence that our investment in the second year of the program was not only warranted but critical to success in the long run,” Harp-Jirschele said.

It’s literally changed Bartelt’s life.

“From the first day of class moving forward he just kept accelerating and doing a lot bigger and better things,” said Nathan Krepline, Bartelt’s instructor in FVTC’s diesel technology program. “The way we have the classes set up here is it’s all stepping stones so that way the students would be able to build their confidence and build their level of success here.

“Mike has taken full advantage of that. … Everybody that is connected with this story sees the same thing. If he didn’t come to the college, where would he be? What would he have done?”

When Bartelt applied for the job at Master Fleet, he naturally asked to use Krepline as a reference.

“They never called me,” Krepline said. “I never even talked to the employer and (Mike) thought I did all this magical behind-the-scenes work. And I didn’t.”

From uwsp.edu: “Nicolet College, UW-Stevens Point partner for education program” – A new program at Nicolet College, Rhinelander, will provide a smooth transition for students interested in completing a bachelor’s degree in elementary education at UW-Stevens Point. It begins in June 2014. 

The associate of science elementary education emphasis program will allow Nicolet College graduates to transition into the School of Education at UW-Stevens Point. 

Nicolet students who transfer to UW-Stevens Point after completing an associate degree will have satisfied all UW-Stevens Point general education program requirements plus 48 required credits toward a bachelor of science in elementary education. They will be on schedule to graduate with students who started their elementary education major at UW-Stevens Point. 

“We’re committed to providing our students seamless pathways to earning a bachelor’s degree that ultimately lead to multiple career options,” said Teresa Rose, Nicolet College transfer coordinator. “This collaboration is a perfect example.” 

“Both partners value the collaboration and thrive on enabling our students to be successful future educators,” said Patty Caro, head of UW-Stevens Point’s School of Education. 

Nicolet students will now be able to transfer to UW-Stevens Point and pursue a bachelor’s degree to teach middle childhood through early adolescence level, ages 6-13. A program for students to teach early childhood level, ages 0-8, regular education and early childhood special education has been in place between Nicolet and UW-Stevens Point since 2006. 

For more information, visit nicoletcollege.edu or call the Nicolet College Welcome Center at (715) 365-4493, or visit the UW-Stevens Point School of Education at www.uwsp.edu.

From weau.com: “Survey finds more applicants lying on resumes” – Have you ever lied on a job application?

According to a recent survey by careerbuilder.com 18% of people say they’ve done it and 38% say they’ve stretched the truth on their job responsibilities.

Local hiring managers want to remind people that honesty is always the best policy when it comes to trying to get a new job, and they say technology is making it easier to make sure a resume is telling the truth.

“I have two weeks left and I’ll graduate from CVTC,” Luke Monson said.

Monson had his resume in hand as he talked with employers at the Chippewa Valley Employment Expo Thursday afternoon. Monson says he is ready to launch his career in information technology, landing that job though is a lot easier said than done.

“I think if you don’t stand out you’ll just be tossed to the side,” Monson added.

Kelly Services in Eau Claire says when it comes to hiring, businesses are expecting more from job applicants.

“It’s rare to find a position in manufacturing or other opportunities where you don’t need to use a computer to do your job,” Katie Reid with Kelly Services said.

The high expectations coupled with a more competitive job market are just one of the reasons why carreerbuilder.com says more applicants are turning to lies on resumes. The Eau Claire Job Center says these days employers have a number of tools they can use to make sure what they see on a resume is what they get in an employee.

“Employers are doing more background checks. They are looking on CCAP and they are doing a background check and looking at Facebook and social media,” Eau Claire Job Center employment and training specialist Amber Hoffman said.

The Job Center in Eau Claire says lying on a resume can get you fired. In the long run, Kelly Services says misrepresenting your skills on an application won’t end up benefitting you or your prospective employer.

“You want to be honest and you also want to find the best fit for you and if an employer isn’t aware of everything you have to offer,” Reid said.

The Eau Claire Job Center does offer regular workshops for resume writing at its office. You can also get one on one help on resume writing with an employment specialist at the Job Center during regular business hours.

From wausaudailyherald.com: “NTC to compete for $1 million Aspen Institute prize” — WAUSAU — The Aspen Institute has named Northcentral Technical College as one of the nation’s top 150 community colleges eligible to compete for the 2015 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence and $1 million in prize funds, according to an NTC news release.

The Aspen Institute, an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C., and Aspen, Colo., identified the top 150 community colleges through an assessment of institutional performance, improvement and equity on student retention and completion measures.

“We are honored to be recognized by the Aspen Institute as one of the top 150 community colleges nationwide,” said Lori Weyers, NTC president. “This is a tribute to our excellent faculty and staff who demonstrate an ongoing commitment to our students and their success.”

The Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, awarded every two years, is the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance among America’s community colleges and recognizes institutions for exceptional student outcomes in four areas: student learning, certificate and degree completion, employment and earnings, and high levels of access and success for minority and low-income students.

From ricelakeonline.com: “Work ethic, character issues are problems for employers” — There isn’t a lack of jobs in Barron County. There’s a lack of employable people.

That was the theme of the Barron County Workforce Skills Conference, which gathered business, education and community leaders together to discuss local workforce issues Monday, March 17 at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College.
The problem, often called a skills gap, is only expected to worsen as baby boomers retire.

In Northwest Wisconsin there are now more people who are 65 than who are 18. That ratio is expected to broaden for the next decade or more.

The results of a survey of 46 Barron County employers were presented at the conference. Many reported a lack of qualified applicants for jobs.

“Businesses are looking to add or recruit people they can’t find,” said Beth Mathison of Manpower Eau Claire.

The skills most needed according to respondents were in customer service, general maintenance, office skills, computer/technical skills, skilled trades, banking/accounting, sales, welding and machining.

In predicting future needs, employees with general office, robotics and masonry skills were mentioned the most.

But it was a lack of basic or “soft” skills that got people talking.

Survey respondents made such comments as “don’t seem to have a strong work ethic,” “nobody wants to talk anymore; they want to email/text everything” and “lack of interpersonal skills is appalling.”

Conference attendee Dane Deutsch, owner of a gymnastics center and IT company, said, “I’ve never fired one person for a tech skill. It has always been a character issue.”

Another attendee said, “If you gave me a choice, I’ll take the person with the critical skills. I can teach the tech skills.”

The survey showed the biggest soft skill deficiencies, in order, were ability to organize and use information, integrity/honesty, speaking, creativity, customer service, reading, writing and problem solving.

In regard to improving the workforce, soft skills was rated ‘most important’ by more than 50% of respondents, followed by occupational skills, specific competencies and educational skills.

Respondents said the most important soft skills, in order by percentage, were attendance/punctuality, initiative/motivation, integrity/honesty, productivity, teamwork and customer service.

Education
Barron School District Superintendant Craig Broeren said soft skills are emphasized in the school system, but home environment is also key to what kind of adult a student becomes.

Some survey respondents suggested the next generation of workers doesn’t have the right attitude toward work and finding work and aren’t being prepared accordingly in schools.

But Chetek-Weyerhaeuser High School principal Larry Zeman said the average adult would not fare well in the advanced placement calculus or chemistry classes students are taking now.

“What kids know now far surpasses anything I knew when I graduated in 1981,” he said.

But even that may not be enough to guarantee career success.

“The last time we hired someone with just a high school diploma was 10 years ago,” said Dan Conroy, an executive at Nexen Group, an advanced manufacturer with a site in Webster.

Conroy said 70% of Nexen employees have a 2-year degree and can get a starting wage of nearly $20 an hour and work up to $35 an hour.

“We’re successful because we’ve gone high-tech, have well-educated employees and pay well,” he said.

Zeman agreed a 2-year degree is a good option for many students.

“We’ve made a concerted effort in out school district to not fool kids into 4 years or nothing else,” he said.

Zeman also said his district is investing $250,000 to upgrade technical education equipment and offer more welding and machine tool classes in a partnership with local technical colleges.

The school district is also trying to build connections with local businesses to create more learning opportunities.

Jim Woods, representing Wisconsin Voices from the Classroom, presented the results of a survey of 1,973 state teachers, 80% of which said there should be more interaction between schools and business.

The survey also showed 67% of responding teachers believe the educational system is on the “wrong track.” Many also said schools do not have enough money to educate students well, and many feel unappreciated as teachers.
“It is a population who thinks they’re not getting enough support from the general public,” said Woods.

But he also said the survey also showed many teachers, particularly younger ones, are willing to change to better student education.
“The only way we’re going to get there is having more discussions like this,” said Woods.

Skill Survey
The survey was conducted by the Barron County Economic Development Corporation in partnership with the Rice Lake Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Committee.

The survey was distributed through other chamber of commerce groups, the BCEDC website, meetings, individual requests and business newsletters.
Most respondents, in order by percentage, were in the manufacturing, construction, health and community services, hotel/restaurant/entertainment or retail and sales industries.

Nearly 75% of respondents had been in business more than 20 years. About 80% had experienced increased or unchanged sales from 2012-2013. About one-third planned to add employees in 2013.

 

From htrnews.com: “Deadline approaching for LTC Top Tech nominations” — CLEVELAND — The deadline for Lakeshore Technical College’s Top Tech Award nominations is Jan. 31. The second annual awards recognize the top educators in career and technical education in Manitowoc and Sheboygan counties.

Four awards will be given to kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers, counselors or administrators who inspire innovation and work to promote career and technical education. The awards will be presented Feb. 20 at a reception at Lakeshore Culinary Institute in Sheboygan.

“This is a great opportunity for students, parents, colleagues and administrators to recognize a teacher who has made a difference in career and technical education at the high school level,” Sara Greenwood, LTC high school liaison coordinator, said in a news release. “The process is easy, and the recognition the winners receive is equally as satisfying as it is to the nominators.”

Nominees should demonstrate innovation in promotion of career and technical education, mentor and inspire students to uncover and pursue their career passions, and participate in outreach activities, according to the release.

Last year’s winners were Ron Schneider and Dave Teske from Kiel High School, representing Manitowoc County, and Ed Hughes of Sheboygan Falls High School, representing Sheboygan County.

For more information, contact Julie Mirecki at (920) 693-1193 or julie.mirecki@gotoltc.edu.

From wiscnews.com: “LBD class focuses on education” — In October, Leadership Beaver Dam class of 2013-2014 had its Education Day. They toured the Beaver Dam Middle School, High School and Moraine Park Technical College.

Presenters for the day included Superintendent Steve Vessey. He shared with LBD the importance of testing at the schools to determine students’ progress in order to maximize their opportunities to learn during the school year. He also told the group that evaluation of teachers and setting goals are important components for the school system learning process. In addition he shared the school’s concern for helping students achieve to their potential through advanced placement classes which students can take in order to receive college credits.

Later that morning Leadership Beaver Dam visited the Beaver Dam Middle School where they observed students responding to questions in a multi-media classroom with the use of a remote. LBD also visited the Read 180 lab, which works on reading development and comprehension. In the lab students meet in a small group, do independent reading and work with computers. One student commented that she enjoyed reading 180, because it had helped her increase her scores on reading tests.

LBD’s last stop at the middle school was in the library where we heard from Jenny Vinz the library media specialist and Beth Plier the reading specialist, who talked about how the school is using Barnes and Nobles’ digital reading device “The Nook” to help students with reading skills. Their work has been so successful, they will be presenting at a national education conference in Minnesota in November.

After the middle school tour, LBD went to the high school where they visited Trends class which teaches students about writing, filming, editing and directing videos that tell a story. They also looked in on an engineering class and an honors chemistry class. This year’s LBD class is impressed with the quality of education and the technology being used Beaver Dam’s public schools.

During lunch LBD heard from the principal of St. Stephen’s Elementary and Middle School, Roger Fenner. He told the group that St. Stephen’s School was established in 1886 and currently has nine teachers who work with their 144 students.

LBD finished the day at Moraine Park Technical College, where they toured the welding, Mercury Marine and nursing classrooms. Campus coordinator Karen Coley and Matt Hurtienne, dean of the Beaver Dam Campus, shared with the group that Moraine Park continues to revise their classes based on the needs of employers.

Before finishing the tour the LBD’s class also saw GED classrooms as well as a live time video conferencing room. MPTC’s instructor Mary Vogel-Rauscher shared her passion for preparing students at MPTC to enter the workforce.

Instructor for Leadership Beaver Dam, Kay Stellpfulg, finished off the afternoon by helping the group further process projects that the group will need to develop and carry out in the coming year.

 

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