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RACINE — Apprenticeships for students interested in education careers are coming this fall to the Racine Unified School District’s Academies of Racine.

The apprenticeship program expansion means that students within the Education pathways at Case, Horlick and Park high schools will have the opportunity to work alongside teachers in K-8 classrooms as well as taking college-level coursework. The combination of hands-on experience and classes helps prepare the students for future careers as educators.

Youth Apprenticeship Program
Alex DeBaker – Credit: RUSD

“Not only are they walking away with experience, they’re getting prepared for careers that could bring them back here to the district as teachers,” said Alex DeBaker, RUSD’s executive director of academies and transformation.

The Academies of Racine was launched at Case, Park and Horlick high schools in the 2016-17 school year. Students at those schools select a career pathway after their first year and then study within that area via coursework and work experience. Through the Academies, students can earn industry certifications and college credits while in high school.

Up until the 2023-24 school year, students in the Academies’ education pathway were able to earn employability and leadership certifications as well as earn college credits. A total of 16 students did, just over the past two school years, while assisting in K-8 classrooms.

Earlier this summer, six 2022 RUSD graduates signed “letters of intent” with the district. This means after successfully completing college education programs, they’ll be eligible for RUSD teaching jobs and a signing bonus.

Now that the state Department of Workforce Development (DWD) has included teaching in its youth apprenticeship program, RUSD can offer education as an apprenticeship option. DeBaker said that apprenticeships require 450 hours of paid work experience in addition to classroom instruction. Education joins manufacturing/robotics, construction, automotive and health services as apprenticeship areas.

“The good news is that the state recognized the need,” he said.

DeBaker added that by having education pathway students someday return to RUSD as teachers, the teacher pool will reflect the district’s student demographics. People of color represent 62% of RUSD school’s student body, according to the Public School Review website. RUSD reports that 57 languages are spoken by its students.

DeBaker anticipates that about 10 juniors and seniors from among the three Academies of Racine will participate in education apprenticeships in the upcoming school year. When school gets underway in September, the students will be paired up with mentor classroom teachers.

Youth Apprenticeship (YA) growing here

The Youth Apprenticeship (YA) Program is facilitated by the Racine Area Manufacturers and Commerce (RAMAC) in collaboration with RUSD. The program has funding for 225 students, at $1,000 per student, which goes toward equipment and training.

The YA program had 212 student apprentices in the 2022-23 school year, up from 185 student apprentices in the previous school year.

RUSD logo

Academies of Racine

Academies are small learning communities that provide real-world experiences with local businesses and professionals, linking schoolwork and the workplace. Each high school will have the same Academies with unique Pathways. Each Pathway is a sequence of courses designed to help students prepare for a specific career area while also meeting the mandatory requirements for high school graduation. Regular coursework, including math, language arts, science and history, is presented within the context of the academy’s focus. Students will also have the same opportunities they have now to select elective courses including Fine Arts and World Language.

Courtesy of / learn more on the RUSD website.

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Paul Holley is retired from careers in journalism, public relations and marketing but not from life. These days, he pretty much writes about what he feels like writing. You may contact him directly at:...