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Written by John Morton   
Wednesday, 24 May 2017 21:04

Ozaukee County’s Youth Apprenticeship Program connects students, mentors for real-world experience

John Higgins enjoys feedback from both his students and mentors in the Ozaukee County Youth Apprenticeship Program, and he gets a kick out of this story in particular:
“One of our mentors told one of our students, ‘If I’m not careful you will be taking over my job some day. But you know what? That would make me incredibly proud,’” said Higgins, a Port Washington High School educator who serves as the program’s consortium coordinator.
thumbsOn May 17, a new group of students from five county high schools graduated from the program during a ceremony at the Cedarburg Cultural Center.
Twenty-six businesses were involved, marking an increase of seven from last year. It involves giving students a “real world of work” experience, Higgins said, by working alongside a mentor to develop skills in a field of interest.
“I have seen incredible relationships develop with students and mentors,” Higgins said.
Catherine Torcivia of Port Washington’s Harbor Campus retirement community can relate. She has participated as a mentor for 14 years.
“It’s nice to watch them learn and grow,” she said of her students, one of which last week paid her a visit from Virginia. “A lot of them do come back and say hello. I know it’s meant a lot to them.
“Our residents also appreciate them. I’ll see them cheering them on during finals week — things like that.”
Torcivia feels the program strengthens the community as a whole.
“Over the years, I’ve had some of my students become nurses both here and at our area hospitals,” she said. “To have these opportunities under their belt helps keep them here.”
Morgan Kropidlowski, a senior at Port Washington High School, was among this year’s nursing students. She shared time at Heritage Nursing and Rehabilitation in Port Washington and the Aurora Medical Center in Grafton.
“The experience opened so many doors for me and I’m grateful,” said Kropidlowski, who will be attending Concordia University in Mequon to study nursing in hopes of becoming a pre-physician assistant. “I interacted with so many different professionals and with the patients.
“It was great to see how one person can change someone’s day — like with just a smile. It’s the little things that make a difference, I guess.”
Students graduating from the program are eligible for college tech credits, Higgins said.
The areas of study include agriculture; food and natural resources; architecture and construction; art; A/V technology and communications; finance; health science; hospitality and tourism; information technology manufacturing; science, technology, engineering and mathematics; and transportation, distribution and logistics.
Here are this year’s graduates of the program and their area of study, along with their mentor:
n Agriculture, food, and natural resources:
Skyler Plaskey, Ozaukee High School/Rob Wessberg, Department of Natural Resources at Pike Lake State Park in Hartford, mentor.
n Health science:
Emily Egan, Port Washington High School, and Kathyrn Fix, Cedarburg High School/Katherine Taylor, Capri Communities in Grafton, mentor; Emma Nicole Hinze, Cedarburg High School/Heather Wulff, Cedar Springs Health and Rehabilitation in Cedarburg, mentor; Elena Hurley, Cedarburg High School/Cheryl Stephan, e-Achieve Newcastle Place in Mequon, mentor; Morgan Kropidlowski, Port Washington High School/Angela Willms, Heritage Nursing and Rehabilitation in Port Washington, mentor; Melissa Mieloch, Port Washington High School, and Madison Norton, Grafton High School/Catherine Torcivia, Harbor Campus in Port Washington, mentor; Morgan Pierron and McKenzie Prom, Port Washington High School/Angela Willms, Heritage Nursing and Rehabilitation in Port Washington, mentor.
n Hospitality and tourism:
Frank Martin, Homestead High School/ Chrissy Stroli, Falafel Guys in Mequon, mentor.
n Information technology:
Joshua Wankowski, Cedarburg High School/Wade Krogwold, Direct Supply in Milwaukee, mentor.
n Manufacturing:
Chris Heindl-Kroenig, Port Washington High School/Jennifer Wenger, Kapco Inc. in Grafton, mentor; Preston Smith, Port Washington High School/Jeff Decker, Oldenburg Metal Tech in Saukville, mentor; Josh Spitzer, Port Washington High School/Jennifer Wenger and David Robinson, Kapco Inc. in Grafton, mentors; Matt Swortzel, Random Lake High School/Jason Bublitz, Midwest Precision Manufacturing in Fredonia, mentor; Cole Tomkiewicz, Grafton High School/Jeff Decker, Oldenburg Metal Tech in Saukville, mentor; Rory Welch, Grafton High School/Jennifer Wenger and Dave Kreutzer, Kapco Inc. in Grafton, mentors; Nicholas Weyker, Grafton High School/Michelle Polum, RAM Tool Inc. in  Grafton, mentor; Tyler Wolf, Port Washington High School/Michael Baumann, Sharon-Cutwell Company in  Belgium, mentor; Joseph Wuhrmann, Homestead High School/Betsy Romo, Pace Industries in Grafton, mentor.
n Transportation, distribution and logistics:
Nathan Armstrong, Cedarburg High School/Jason Walker, Sommer’s Automotive in Mequon, mentor; Luke Chatfield, Port Washington High School/Jim Brooks, Jimmy B’s Auto & Light Truck Repair in Port Washington, mentor; Garrett Mehre, Port Washington High School/Scott Bartlein, Barry Fleet Services in Milwaukee, mentor; Eddie Lanser, Cedarburg High School/George Heimsch, Krueger’s Auto Tech & Tire Center in Cedarburg, mentor; Joseph Lazore, Ozaukee High School/Jeffrey Kritz, M&R Service Center in Cedar Grove, mentor; Nick Schlabach, Cedarburg High School/George Heimsch, Krueger’s Auto Tech & Tire Center in Cedarburg, and Robert Schiek, Lakeside International Trucks in Milwaukee, mentors; Nicholas Wilhelm, Grafton High School/Dennis Erovik, Car Maid Service in Cedarburg, mentor.

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