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Several West Delaware representative were at Governor Kim Reynolds’ Future Ready Iowa Summit April 30 in Des Moines. Front from left, West Delaware students Jacob Brown, Dakota Waterhouse and Bo Juran; back row, Henderson Products representative Kevin Schueller, Reynolds, West Delaware Welding Instructor Seth Harms and State Director for the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration, Office of Apprenticeship Greer Grisson.

The success of West Delaware’s registered apprenticeship in welding and other work-based learning initiatives was front and center at the Governor’s Future Ready Iowa Summit, at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines April 30

West Delaware Superintendent Dr. Kristen Rickey, along with High School Principal Tim Felderman, Welding Instructor, Seth Harms, and students Becca Cole, Dakota Waterhouse, Bo Juran and Jacob Brown, shared the work the district has done to partner with businesses and industries in Delaware County.

Also speaking at the summit was Kevin Schueller, Tom Kenney, Jody McKowen and Cari Wright, from Henderson Products, and Donna Boss, Delaware County economic development director.

At the summit, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds called for expanding opportunities for K-12 students to engage in real world, professional experiences that connect the classroom to careers. She announced the Iowa Department of Education will develop a blueprint by the end of 2019 for the work-based learning experiences that should be accessible to every student.

“Each day, we’re sharpening Iowa’s competitive edge in education and expanding our workplace partnerships with job-ready, STEM-savvy, life-long learners,” said Reynolds. “It’s vital our students think differently and explore their options when it comes to post-secondary education, so they can be adaptable in the disruptive economy of the future.”

Rickey, who spoke on a panel on work-based learning, said she is proud of the leadership role West Delaware has taken in registered apprenticeships.

“There are still only six high schools in the state who host registered apprenticeships. We were the third in the state to do that. We are a leader in that regard and hope to help others build those. We are also hoping to expand apprenticeships into other areas besides welding. These are true partnerships where everyone benefits.”

Cole spoke about taking the NICC welding course Harms instructs, and how she uses those skills in her summer job and future career.

Harms, along with Felderman, the other West Delaware students, the representatives from Henderson Products and Boss, discussed the welding apprenticeship.

“Our job was to talk about the benefits of the apprenticeship and give guidance, as well as answer any questions. It was a great feeling to know that with all the work we have put into the program to make it successful, it continually gets recognized from different organizations. It’s also so humbling to hear Gov. Reynolds speak about our program all the time.”

Rickey said of the event, “This was a wonderful opportunity for business, industry and education to come together to understand how we can partner together to improve outcomes for students and to build a workforce that’s ready for what’s required of them in the future.”

She believes it’s also a way for schools to give back to their communities. “For a long time, we’ve had the community support the schools. Now we really are finding ways for us to give back to the business and industries. That’s what a true partnership is all about. I’m really excited about that.”