From “Educators in career and technical education recognized” — CLEVELAND — Lakeshore Technical College presented its second annual Top Tech Awards to recognize the top influencers in career and technical education in Manitowoc and Sheboygan counties. The five awards were presented at a reception at the Lakeshore Culinary Institute on Feb. 20.

Educators from Manitowoc County were recognized with three of the awards.

• Rick Conrad of Manitowoc Lincoln High School serves as the school’s youth apprenticeship liaison, transition specialist, work experience teacher and tech ed teacher. Conrad was nominated for his role in the approximately 30 students a year from Manitowoc Lincoln High School participating in Youth Apprenticeship.

Conrad sets up job shadows for all Lincoln students, transitions special needs students into the workforce through a fundamental work experience program and coordinates more than 50 students in Lincoln’s work experience programs. He has worked with all departments on their career and technical education advisory committees, and is currently working with the tech ed department on its three-year plan and new course proposals.

• Marcy Kuhn and Amber Brewer, academic advisors and guidance counselors for Mishicot High School and Mishicot Middle School, respectively, also were presented with a Top Tech Award for their leadership, tenacity and passion for students’ post-secondary success. Their high school advisement period provides weekly lesson plans to each of the four grade levels to better prepare students after the end of high school.

Their Career Portfolio project implements student, parent, and school counselor meetings at key transition points in a student’s school career. During these meetings, the student’s strengths and areas of improvement, future plans, and goal setting are discussed with assessments aiding students and parents in their course choices and development of their four-year plans. This duo is sought after as a resource by other organizations and districts to replicate this success.

From “The School Bell: Filling the skills gap — a Tomah tradition” —February is Career and Technical Education Month, and we have been hearing a consistent message from many important individuals about the value of career and technical education for our students, the future workforce, and our economy.

In Gov. Walker’s State of the State address he talked about the skills gap which exists in Wisconsin and the employment needs which exist in skilled trades, manufacturing, and construction. Governor Walker acknowledged that “we need enough skilled workers ready to fill jobs open today — as well as those that will be open tomorrow, and in the days to come.”

President Obama, in his State of the Union address, also commented on the need for real-world education and hands-on training that can lead directly to a job and career. While in Wisconsin visiting a General Electric engine factory near Milwaukee, President Obama stressed the importance of having job-training programs that work. He also recognized that a four-year degree is not needed for all good jobs today, but those good jobs do require specialized training.

Our State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Dr. Tony Evers, has also stressed the importance of preparing our students to be “college and career ready” through his Agenda 2017. The Department of Public Instruction has been working to advance education reforms to ensure every child graduates ready for further education and the workplace. It appears this is common ground on which we all agree — it is important for our young people to develop skills while still in high school which will allow them to either enter the workforce after their graduation or continue with their schooling.

The Tomah School District has a strong tradition of providing instruction to interested high school students in the area of construction, engineering, and industrial technology. As a matter of fact, Evers, purchased and lived in a house that was built by high school students in the building trades class when he was the Tomah High School principal.

During the THS Success Showcase held on Jan. 16, I spent time in the “shop” classrooms to see the work in which students were engaged. Students were welding, cutting and bending metal, programming a plasma cutter and practicing skills needed in the construction trades. The Technology Education Department at THS provides opportunities for students to gain real-world hands-on experience. Students can learn about engineering robots and mapping digital electronic circuits through Project Lead the Way classes. Through industrial technology classes, they can become competent with power tools, experienced in rough and finished interior and exterior carpentry and trained in advanced machine tool skills, oxyacetylene welding and horizontal and vertical over-head welding.

We also value the partnerships developed with the Construction Professionals Association and AGC of Wisconsin, both of which have provided financial resources and materials for our programs at THS.

All of our Career and Technical Education areas, which include business, family and consumer science, agriculture and technology and engineering education, provide meaningful school-to-work opportunities for our students. Strong articulation exists between Tomah High School, Western Technical College and the Milwaukee School of Engineering in our CTE subject areas. Students enrolled in these courses have opportunities to earn college credit while at Tomah High School. This creates a seamless transition from high school to the post-secondary educational level and into the workplace. We are working on having these instructional experiences enable our students to receive state-approved skill certificates so that our local businesses and industry will have qualified entry-level employees. In recent years advisory councils have been developed in which our local construction, engineering, agriculture, and business leaders meet with school personnel to share their expertise and to provide insights into program improvements. Students at THS have the ability to develop specialized skills that will make them employable in a number of businesses/industries, as well as prepared for pursuing post-secondary education. Options exist, opportunities await and openings in the workplace can be filled by Tomah High School graduates. Filling the skills gap is a Tomah tradition.

If you have any questions or comments about the information and opinions expressed in this edition of The School Bell, please contact Cindy Zahrte, District Administrator, at or 374-7002.

Cindy Zahrte is superintendent of the Tomah School District.


From “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

From “BMHS fairs expose students to career success ingredients” — Beloit Memorial High School was buzzing with activity on Thursday morning as the school held its first Wisconsin Education Fair in the field house and first Annual Career and Technical Education Fair in the Barkin Arena.

Juniors and seniors had a two-hour block to visit both fairs to learn about possible careers and the skills and education required to obtain them.

The Wisconsin Education Fair (WEF) featured four-year universities, colleges, technical colleges and other post-secondary schools. BMHS school counselor Erin Wolf said it was the first time WEF, the largest educational fair in Wisconsin, came to Beloit. Those at BMHS had tried for two years to get the school to be one of the approved sites. On Thursday, Wolf said there were 102 post-secondary options represented including two-year and four-year schools in addition to the military and cosmetology schools.

Representatives from universities and colleges from Iowa, Alabama, Minnesota, North Dakota and other states were represented.

BMHS senior Heather Miller, interested in biology and astronomy, was checking out a booth from Northland College, a small school in Ashland, Wis. She said she liked the idea of a college with classes as small as 12-14 students. She said having schools from across the state and country was a great idea.

“I don’t have to go visit all of them. To come here is pretty helpful,” she said.

Students Erica Dominguez-Martinez, Ann McKee and Kaitlyn Rivas were chatting with University of Wisconsin-Platteville Admission Advisor Katharine Caywood about their interests in psychology, foreign languages, animal science and business degrees.

Kaitlyn said she was interested in Platteville because of it’s forensic science investigation major as she hopes to become a coroner or medical examiner. Caywood told her Platteville also offers internships at the Rockford, Ill., Coroner’s Office.

Wolf said the fair was a great success, and that afterward school counselors were preparing to make individual contact with all the seniors to help them work on their college application processes.

Businesses involved in manufacturing, construction, welding, information systems, graphic arts, even tourism and hospitality were invited to set up a booth at the Career and Technical Education Fair. And on Thursday some were getting some hands-on experience.

Blackhawk Technical College Culinary Arts instructor and executive pastry chef Katie Thomas’s table was a hit with students as she offered them the opportunity to make little swan-shaped cream puffs. She said it was a great way to engage with students.

“Students feel like they’ve made something, and it gets their creative juices flowing,” she said.

Heather Warne, a human resource generalist, with Prent Thermoforming out of Janesville, said her company packages medical components. There is a strong need for engineers as well as machine operators as well as IT, finance and human resource professionals. She said students who come out of high school with some automotive training can be easily trained to work on machines.

University of Wiscoinsin-Platteville Professor of Electrical Engineering Dale Buechler, Ph.D., who works with engineering students at UW-Rock County, brought a miniature solar panel, paper plate turbine and a circuit board to entice students into pursuing engineering careers. He told them with Rock County’s partnership with UW-Platteville, there are classes in the evenings allowing students to work during the day while pursuing engineering. And advances in technologies have made much of the equipment more affordable and portable so students can spend less time on campus and more time working at home.

From “More students seek out tech. education program” — By Hillary Gavan – More Beloit students are enrolling in technical education classes thanks to the newly renovated Technical Education Programming Space in Beloit Memorial High School’s lower level and the district’s renewed commitment to promoting the skilled trades as a career option for students.

“We are investing in Career and Technical Education and are making changes as needed to provide students with the best path to a potential career opportunity,” said Ryan Rewey, the School District of Beloit’s new career and technical education director.

This October, in honor of manufacturing month, Beloit Memorial High School (BMHS) students will be participating in a career fair and expo at the school, visiting two local manufacturers on National Manufacturing Day and welcoming State Superintendent Tony Evers for a tour.

Rewey said there is energy and excitement surrounding the new space as the department has brought on new educators and is already offering students more opportunities to partner with local business.

Last year BMHS had 935 students go through the Technology and Engineering area, and this year it has 973 students who have signed up.

“We expect this number to continue to increase as our program begins to take off,” Rewey said.

This fall students were able to choose from four technical education career paths — machining, building construction, manufacturing and a new career path of computer repair and information technology (CISCO). After completing four to five classes in each area, students should be ready to be employed immediately after graduation or could apply their course work toward a degree at a school such as Blackhawk Technical College. There are also a series of engineering courses for students who are interested in pursuing an engineering-related career path.

Efforts to get more students enrolling in technical education classes are already under way. Students will be participating in the First Annual Career and Technical Education Fair set for 9 – 11 a.m. Thursday at BMHS. The event coincides with the Wisconsin Education Fair, which will feature four-year universities, colleges, technical colleges and other post-secondary schools. The students will have a two-hour block to visit both fairs to learn about possible careers and the skills and education necessary to obtain them.

Then on Friday 38 students will be heading to Regal Cutting Tools and Forest City Gear in Roscoe for National Manufacturing Day to get a look at the jobs available in a real work setting.

On Oct. 28 State Superintendent Tony Evers will be coming through the newly upgraded facilities in honor of manufacturing month.

On Monday students such as junior Logan Engel were learning to use a horizontal band saw and learning to weld in new instructor Chris Klatt’s class.

Engel said he is taking a welding class and two construction classes this year. He said he’d been waiting for the renovations to be complete before starting, and hopes to get an internship with Corporate Contractors Inc. (CCI) this summer. He not only plans to make good money by learning the trades, but said he learns more in technical education classes with more hands-on work.

“I learn better working by myself and learning from my own mistakes,” he said.

The Welding and CNC Lab has been expanded and is up and running with 17 welding stations that include brand new miller tungsten inert gas (TIG) and metal inert gas (MIG) machines as well as updated ventilation.

Although students have been learning how to weld but are waiting to use the 12 new CNC mills and lathes until the district gets the necessary tooling purchased. For now, Rewey said students are learning the principles of running the Haas training panels and learning about G-Code and M-Code, the programming languages for CNC.

At the newly remodeled Construction Lab students are already working on building scale models of homes in their beginning construction class with Will Neiers, an instructor who is newly full-time with the district this year. Neiers said there are many more students in his basic carpentry and carpentry techniques classes this year, probably because of the new facilities. In the newly remodeled Woods Lab, for example, students will learn millwork, cabinetry and more.

Rewey said he would like to have a program model similar to the construction program offered in Janesville where local contractors could get involved and students could build a home to sell. Any profits made from the sale of the home could go back into the Technical Education Program as well as scholarships for students pursuing the skilled trades.

Rewey said the department is focused on exposing more students to the courses available through tours, participation in National Manufacturing Day, the career expo and more. There are also efforts under way to attract more female students to the program. Just this fall the district hired Tammy Spoerk to teach engineering and blue print reading. Spoerk, a former computer aided drafting (CAD) business owner, has plans to get a robotics team back at BMHS next year and take students on more trips to universities.

She encourages parents and community members to come see the type of high skilled work students are actually doing as she said people would be surprised how advanced course work is and how far students will go if they are empowered to be leaders.


From “Project GRILL unveiling on May 3 in Fond du Lac” — The smell of summer will soon be in the air as area students and business leaders gather for the 2013 Project GRILL unveiling.

The event will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, May 3, at the Festival Foods parking lot, 1125 E. Johnson St. Admission is free, but the unveiling will include a brat fry to support the Project GRILL program.

Student creativity and hands-on manufacturing lessons combine to produce one-of-a-kind and sometimes unexpected charcoal grills. Project GRILL, a program of the Fond du Lac Area Association of Commerce, matches high school technical education departments with area manufacturers in a challenge to work together to design, test and build a grill.

This year, eight high school technical education departments have been paired with eight area manufacturers, according to an event press release. Partnerships include Campbellsport High School and Mid-States Aluminum, Fond du Lac High School and Nemesis Metals, Horace Mann High School and JF Ahern Co., Laconia High School and Mercury Marine, Lomira High School and Kondex Corp., Mayville High School and Mayville Engineering Co., Oakfield High School and Manowske Welding, and Winnebago Lutheran Academy and MAG.

Moraine Park Technical College is a supporting partner of Project GRILL, providing technical assistance and facilities.

For more information, visit or call the Fond du Lac Area Association of Commerce at (920) 921-9500.


From “Column: Career, tech education a real-world way to learn” — By Brenda Dillenburg, dean of the Mid-State Technical College Marshfield campus – Career and technical education is a cooperative effort between technical colleges and employers. Students receive instruction and training in the classroom and also with local employers through internships, externships and clinical rotations. These real-world skills and experiences help graduates be better prepared to enter or re-enter the world of work.


Mid-State Technical College offers certificates, technical diplomas and associate degrees in more than 100 areas.

MSTC graduates enjoy careers in many industries and service areas in all of our communities. Some examples include law enforcement and corrections officers, surgical technologists, manufacturing and electronic technicians, welders, registered nurses, automotive technicians, accountants, cosmetologists, urban foresters, business managers, supervisors, marketing professionals, computer programmers, medical assistants, respiratory therapists and much more. As we look around at the businesses and industries in our community, it is easy to see the impact of career and technical education.

A technical college education is the training that is sought after and needed by employers in the 21st century. In fact, 93 percent of employers are satisfied or very satisfied with the education and training and would hire technical college graduates again.

The preparation provided at a technical college includes the necessary academic and technical skills to be highly productive employees in their field of choice.

The required technical skills are changing each and every year; many of these skills were unheard of a generation ago. We work with employers in our communities to stay abreast of changes and advances in technology so that these new tools and skills are incorporated into our programs.

In addition to offering programs of study to meet the workforce needs of tomorrow, technical colleges are well suited to offer just-in-time training and training aimed at upgrading employees’ skills.

Mid-State Technical College is your community’s college. Turn to us when you are ready to develop employee training or enter a program of study to earn your associate degree or technical diploma. MSTC’s Marshfield Campus is at 2600 W.Fifth St. in Marshfield. You may reach us at 715-387-2538 or visit our website at Let us know how we can be of service to you.

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