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Program Launches Students on Careers

Tuesday, November 30, 2021
launch carpentry
Students work on a carpentry project in class.

LAUNCH, a simulated worksite program, has figured out how to deliver the benefits of a hands-on curriculum—high engagement, retention, and practice in critical thinking, to name a few—to more students than a traditional placement, according to Robert “Bob” Hall, executive director of the Elmbrook School District's LAUNCH program.

One of Elmbrook’s business partners, an actuarial firm called Milliman, serves to make his point. In a traditional internship, five students would be placed with five mentors. “In LAUNCH, those five mentors influence 25 kids,” Hall said.

Hall’s program has expanded into Wauwatosa East High School’s technical education program, where Craig Griffie, certified pre-apprenticeship program administrator, runs a project-based learning program that is a strand of LAUNCH.

“The difference is that LAUNCH students get a problem from industry that they try to solve in class,” Griffie said.

In Griffie’s program, a professional from each trade works alongside him to teach students masonry, carpentry, electrical, plumbing, and other skills. A free-standing bathroom rises from the shop floor as each phase of the building process is learned. At the end of the project, the bathroom is taken apart, but students can take their skills with them into registered apprenticeship programs.

“And because the Wauwatosa program is certified by the Department of Workforce Development as a pre-apprenticeship program, students get a 500-hour credit toward the 7,000-hour registered apprenticeship program through the North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters,” Griffie said.

launch carpentry
Students work on a carpentry project during class.

Both programs eliminate the transportation problems that come with internships outside the school, and both address equity goals by reaching more students who might not otherwise be able to participate.

“If we’re committed to access and equity, students whose parents aren’t currently connected will get access [through the program],” Hall said.

Hall and Griffie are teaming up to talk about their model programs in “Project-Base Learning and Simulated Worksites,” a Career Pathways Showcase webinar at 3:30 p.m. on Dec. 14. The monthly series will showcase outstanding examples of different types of work-based learning each month.

The series is also offered in anticipation of the release of the “Wisconsin Guide to Implementing Career-Based Learning Experiences,” a thorough reference to CBLEs and work-based learning experiences in Wisconsin.

Subscriber submission: Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction’s Career and Technical Education team