Education partners, businesses give Rhinelander students career options
Senior Tyler Morrison is one of 85 students participating in work experience programs through academic career planning efforts at Rhinelander High School. Star Journal photo
By Eileen Persike, editor
Rhinelander High School senior Tyler Morrison likes to hunt for deer and turkey, fish for bass and play football and baseball for the Hodags. With one semester of high school left, Morrison also likes knowing what he will do after graduation, and he is getting a head start on his career.
Morrison is participating in one of several academic career planning programs through RHS, the Youth Apprenticeship program. He has been working at Fraiser’s Plumbing, Heating and Cooling for about a year.
“December last year, [RHS counselor Lexi Allen] sent out an email about Frasier’s having a three-day ride along,” said Morrison. “My parents said yeah, go do it, and if you like it stay with them and see what it’s about, make a little bit of money.”
The YA program works in conjunction with the state of Wisconsin, but the School District of Rhinelander also offers work experience opportunities, the Inspire initiative, Start College Now and numerous career programs brought to students through Partners in Education (PIE).
School counselor Lexi Allen coordinates all of those programs, which are under SDR’s academic and career planning curriculum.
“All of our students will have a job someday, whether it’s in our community or somewhere else, it’s great to give them that exposure now so they can see what’s out there,” Allen said. “When we talk about the big manufacturing places, we’ll have a handful of students who go into the manufacturing side, but there is also human resources, there’s also maintenance, there’s so many things that go into that business. Our hope is that they stay in the community and help us grow but even if they don’t, just getting exposure to what’s out here and helping our businesses grow and see what they can do is so important.”
Partners in Education initiated the district’s involvement with Inspire, a program that began as Inspire Rhinelander and is now part of Inspire Wisconsin. It connects businesses in the community to the school district. It provides things like job shadows and internships and brings business people in to give presentations to students. Allen said the initial goal was to have 20 Inspire partners; by the end of the last school year they had 30 and the program continues to grow.
“It’s going great,” said Allen. “We have our students working during the school day to get credit, which is helpful for businesses that maybe need someone for a couple hours in the morning or the afternoon.”
After his ride-along with a plumber and an HVAC installer, Morrison decided plumbing is what he is going into after graduation.
“[The apprenticeship] is like a job that you get paid, but I’m learning a lot,” Morrison said. “I go in at 8 in the morning in the warehouse, going through pickups and putting stuff back on shelves.”
Overall, 85 Rhinelander High School students are working in the business world during the school day; something Allen said is providing an important benefit.
“The big thing for us was the students weren’t feeling like they belong, and so this gives them that feeling of belonging, not only with us but in the community as well, which helps improve mental health,” Allen explained.
“We notice that when kids have a plan for what they want to do after high school – whether it’s going into the workforce, college, the military – they have something they are working toward and that gives them a purpose here in school. The do better in class. When they don’t know what they want to do, that when they’re not motivated or giving it their best effort.”
Tyler Morrison plans to work fulltime at Fraiser’s over the summer and eventually get into a plumbing apprenticeship at Nicolet College. He recommends younger students look into the academic career planning options at RHS.
“I would definitely consider the trades for a lot of people who don’t want to go to a four-year college,” he said.” If you don’t want to do plumbing or HVAC, I would look around, do something else like construction, electrical, mechanic. There are a lot of options.”