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#RethinkSchool: Struggling Student Discovers Path through Colorado Apprenticeship Program


Sierra didn’t always dream of working in the insurance business. In fact, until recently, she didn’t even know if she’d finish high school.

But with the help of a caring counselor, a local business and an innovative state effort, Sierra is now thriving in her new role as a full-time employee at Pinnacol Assurance.

Her journey from struggling student to working professional began when Sierra’s counselor approached her with a new opportunity through CareerWise, a Colorado nonprofit that helps businesses recruit talent through paid apprenticeships that begin in high school.

Sierra (center) speaks in a meeting with U.S. Senator Michael Bennet.

“I was stuck. My life is kind of different. I have no parents, so I am really on my own,” said Sierra. The Colorado resident says she spent her early years being “tossed around a lot” without a stable home to ground her academically or personally – so she planned on dropping out.

Despite Sierra’s reservations, her counselor thought the program would be a “good fit.” So the high schooler conducted research and then attended a presentation by Pinnacol, a Denver-based insurance company. Work at the company had exciting benefits, including a tuition reimbursement program.

“I knew I had to have this opportunity,” said Sierra. “I grabbed it.” During the first year of the program, CareerWise students attend high school classes three days a week and participate in on-the-job training for up to 16 hours per week. By the third year, students have finished their formal academic classes, and begin working 32 hours or more.

Work-based learning opportunities like Sierra’s are part of a statewide push to promote apprenticeships. By strengthening the talent pipeline, state leaders believe Colorado can build a competitive economy now, and maintain that edge in the future.

The Business Experiential Learning Commission – a state effort – travelled to Switzerland in 2016 to learn about the country’s successful apprenticeship model and find ways to adapt what’s working there for Colorado businesses, communities, and students. Since then, the Commission has developed a work-based learning system – including apprenticeships – that prepares residents to meet the demands of today’s economy.

Exemplary Student Art and Writing Honored at U.S. Department of Education


Scholastic, Association of Art Museum Directors, Encourage Students’ Education Through the Arts

The braces aren’t immediately detectable, tucked inside the pant legs of their owner, 17-year-old Tim Farmer. They are a vital part of Tim’s life, however, and are the focus of his photograph and essay on display at the U.S. Department of Education (ED) headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Tim travelled recently from Bentonville, Arkansas, to attend a joint celebration at ED of exceptional student art and writing. Some of it, like Tim’s, came to ED from 11 museum members of the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD), which views art education and the promotion of student art as central to its and its members’ mission; others won top honors in the national Scholastic Art & Writing Awards competition. On hand for the art exhibit opening were student artists and writers from across the country, their families, arts educators and leaders, congressional staff, and ED staff.

“Workforce Development for All”- ED Take Your Child to Work Day


Rethinking education for the 21st century means recognizing that learning can happen anytime, anywhere – far beyond the boundaries of the school day or a brick and mortar building. Secretary DeVos has challenged the nation to question everything, to ensure that nothing limits students from being prepared for what comes next. Here at the Department of Education, we believe in putting our principles into action – and we’ve taken the Secretary’s challenge to heart. Yesterday, more than 180 children joined their family member at the Lyndon B. Johnson Building to learn about  skills used on the job and to think about where their talents can take them in life.

The day’s motto was “Workforce Development for All.” Activities focused on empowering these children to effect positive changes within their homes, schools, and communities. Interactive learning experiences helped build skills like teamwork, communication, and critical thinking – skills that equip the next generation for rewarding careers and fulfilling 

Are workers ready for skills training? The problem with seeking growth before stability.


Employers need a strong pool of available labor with the skills and knowledge to sustain and grow their business, adding more jobs to the economy. No arguments there. Foundations and community organizations want to see lower-wage workers get the qualifications they need for the kind of jobs that can support a middle-class family. Again, wholeheartedly agree. 

To me, the question is, are we doing the hard work to meet these learners where they are so that we can achieve that vision of a strategically trained workforce? The people who are in most need of career training are often least able to take advantage of it. 

If you’re struggling to patch together childcare between relatives with an unpredictable work schedule, how will you manage adding hours a week of training or classes? If you’re working two jobs to just make it to your next paycheck, how will you afford to cut back your shifts? If your supervisor won’t adjust your schedule to accommodate your program, if you’re caring for your elderly father at night and there’s never time to study, if you’re behind on your rent and not sure where you’ll be living next month, how can you put in the time and energy needed to succeed?





Mason High School Journalism

 The Chronicle and the Mason Broadcast Crew at Mason High School. 

Video Pets in classrooms at MHS

 Reporter/Producer EUGENIO VILLARREAL shows us a teacher who believes pets in her classroom helps students to be more aware of living things. Not only do pets help students feel more comfortable in the class but it also helps students have more respect for living things.SHOW MORE

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Bridging the Soft Skills Gap



Despite U.S. high school graduation rates reaching all-time highs, many employers are finding that recent graduates are unprepared to succeed in the workforce because they lack foundational “soft skills.”

While technical skills are often industry-specific, soft skills such as professional communication, critical thinking, collaboration, and time management are valued by employers across sectors. The importance of these skills is widely acknowledged; yet, they are not taught with consistency or given prioritization.

Closing the gap between the soft skills employers require in their workforce and those that students leave school with is essential. This can and should be achieved through collaboration between business and education at the local level.

Bridging the Soft Skills Gap makes the case for partnerships between the business and education sectors and outlines strategies already being used successfully across the country. It offers practical recommendations for businesses seeking to make an impact and profiles five successful partnerships established by Nike, Ernst & Young, Wegmans, Wynn Las Vegas and the Northern Kentucky Education Council.

Joining Forces to Mobilize Business on Early Childhood Education


 On Wednesday, April 17, the U.S. Chamber Foundation co-hosted #LeadingonEarlyEd, a Twitter chat with Save the Children Action Network (SCAN) to engage a broad audience in a conversation about early childhood education as a critical workforce issue. The goal of the chat was to have a focused discussion with individuals, advocates, and employers across the country where we could all collectively share the data, stories, and research behind this two-generation challenge. We were thrilled with the turnout!

To those who know the Chamber Foundation, you know that we approach early childhood education as a workforce issue from both the perspectives of the parents/caregivers and their children.

Affordable access to early childhood education is a barrier to enter, re-enter, or stay in the workforce for parents and caregivers, who are our workforce of today. We also want to ensure that our young children, who make up the workforce we will rely on tomorrow, have the skills and supports they need to succeed. 

These two different generations are directly impacted by the decisions we make today on early childhood education and we will see those impacts for years to come. 

Building skills – Students earn welding qualification

Welding is a skill that is in demand.


Welding is a skill that is in demand. 

Several students who attend the Sevier Career and Technical Education Center walked out of school Friday with the ability to get a job welding.

“We are giving them the American Welding Society test,” said Clyde Ellertson, an instructor with Weber State University and owner of his own welding business. Ellertson came to Richfield last week to give students the test and allow them to earn a qualification, which they can use to get a job.

“I had a company last week call me and wanted 10 welders,” Ellertson said. “I just didn’t have them.” 

Earning a qualification in welding requires students to demonstrate their skills, and then have their welds visually inspected and tested under a hydraulic press. 

“The thing with a welding certification is that you have to recertify every six months to make sure your skills are up to standard,” Ellertson said. He said in the aftermath of the Northridge, California, earthquake of 1994, it was determined that many welders were not keeping up with their skills, so the six-month rule was put in place.

“If you’re working, it’s easy because you have a supervisor who can check your work,” Ellertson said. “It’s a good change. We have to make sure our industry as a profession is as good as it can be.”

The student mix included approximately 45 percent girls.

“I’m impressed by the young people and their excitement for learning about this,” Ellertson said. “These students will be qualified to the D1.1 standard.”

The qualifications earned during Friday’s test could be a springboard for a job, or even further education, said Justin Butler, instructor.

“Clyde was my instructor at Weber high and Weber state,” Butler said. He said Ellertson came to Richfield to help the local students.

“We’ve had the pipe unions and structural unions come in and they are amazed at what our students can do,” Butler said. He said the skills learned for welding can lead directly to a job, or help them as they pursue higher degrees in subjects such as welding engineering. 


Promote current deals


Running a holiday sale or weekly special? Definitely promote it here to get customers excited about getting a sweet deal.

Share the big news


Have you opened a new location, redesigned your shop, or added a new product or service? Don't keep it to yourself, let folks know.

Display their FAQs


Customers have questions, you have answers. Display the most frequently asked questions, so everybody benefits.