Apprentice Highlight: Thompson School District Apprentices Demonstrate Why Work-Based Learning Works

By Erika Germer | CareerWise K12 Partnerships Manager

Across the Colorado Regions communities, CareerWise school partners are modeling how apprenticeship can provide measurable benefits both to students and the employer. Thompson School District (TSD) in Loveland was an early partner in expanding the youth apprenticeship model into Northern Colorado. To date, TSD has hired three apprentices and recruitment is underway for two Future Educators this spring.

Jacob Hoffer

“The Thompson School District is a proud participant in the CareerWise program,” says Dr. Marc Schaffer, Superintendent of Thompson School District. “We sincerely appreciate the advocacy and dedication toward supporting our students with career apprenticeship opportunities.”

Jacob Hoffer is a second-year computer technician apprentice and senior at Loveland High School. “When I first applied for the position, I was mostly thinking what a great addition it would be to my resume,” he says. “I’m proud to say I have already gotten certified as an HP computer technician and am working on my Apple certification. These things give me a big advantage over my peers who are unemployed or working in places like fast food.”

Devin Kaufman, a first-year computer technician apprentice, agrees: “Apprenticeship gets me behind the scenes of a professional workplace where I can actually contribute.” Devin, a junior at Berthoud High School, plans to pursue a college degree after his apprenticeship in the area of electrical engineering or 3D modeling. “What I am learning about and with computers will help me no matter what I decide to do later. There’s really no downside to it, and I like how my work hours take place during the school day.”

The third TSD apprentice, Katana Chavez, is a senior at Ferguson High School. In her role as a maintenance technician apprentice, she is gaining general knowledge about each of the trades, specifically plumbing, electrical, carpentry and HVAC.

Devin Kaufman

“We even have Katana reading blueprints to gain an understanding of the various symbols and notes on the drawings,” says her supervisor Jason Arebalos, Maintenance Manager for the district. “Each time we visit the new PreK-8 school site, she is able to see how the blueprints lead to the construction of the building. She has many interests, and seems especially enthusiastic about the construction trades.”

Katana’s initial goal in applying for the position was to make her a better future homeowner. “To maintain a house, you at least need to know a little about the trades, from grounds maintenance and roofing to plumbing and electrical,” she says. “But once I started working, I knew I had to dive in deep and embrace learning things that I might not have been excited about. It’s amazing that I am getting paid to go to school and learn, to save up money and to find myself.”

And the investment is paying off for Thompson as well, as evidenced by Jacob’s concluding remarks: “I have more confidence about what I hope to do in the future. After my apprenticeship, I will attend community college and hopefully be hired full-time at the district.”