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Milwaukee Public Schools equipping students with hands-on job skills

MPS utilizes 25 school-to-work facility classrooms throughout the city for students to learn and work at.
Posted at 6:47 PM, Dec 03, 2021

MILWAUKEE — Over at Milwaukee Public Schools, they are giving students a head start to gain trade skills through hands-on experience.

There is nothing quiet inside what they call a classroom. The sound of metal cutting and tools banging is typical. For students like Tarrell Houston, it's a place to put away the books and pencils and pick up a hammer.

"I like that it's hands-on," said Houston.

At just 17 years old, Houston is learning skills that might just land him a career. Today he is working with sheet metal that will eventually be made into an air duct.

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Tarrell Houston

The supervisor of theSchool to Work Transition program, Stephanie O'Connor-Schutt, believes this program gives students more options if they choose not to go on to college.

"It is in fact a class for students in special education, in any of our high schools, to gain experience and exposure to a variety of different work skills and build upon some of those essential soft skills that are needed," said O'Connor-Schutt.

The program started 30 years ago to teach students trade skills that they can use after graduation when applying for jobs.

According to the Job Network, skilled trade jobs are in high demand and the pay isn't bad either. A licensed electrician can make up $80,000 a year.

In Milwaukee students are able to work directly with companies for a class credit while learning skills.

"This program really is meeting each individual exactly where they're at, learning what are their goals, what are their interests, what are their strengths, and building them up to be ultimately the best version of themselves they can be," said O'Connor-Schutt.

MPS utilizes 25 facility classrooms throughout the city for students to learn at.

Larry Curry, a veteran sheet metal worker, has been working at the site for almost 30 years. He has helped countless students learn and go on to thrive in trade careers. He got into it through the MPS program when he was in high school.

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Larry Curry

"For me, again college wasn't the way to go, and here you're learning hands-on. It's a different way of learning - you're not stuck in a book all day. I am a product of the program," said Curry.

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