Ryan at New Berlin Eisenhower
House speaker tours labs, discusses future job industry with students

By Ashley Haynes - Freeman Staff

Sept. 19, 2017

 House Speaker Paul Ryan addresses a room of students and faculty at
New Berlin Eisenhower on Monday.
Kenny Yoo/Special to The Freeman

NEW BERLIN - The New Berlin School District has a very specific vision in mind when it comes to arming their pupils with the skills and knowledge they'll need to be successful in the ever-changing field of technical careers. That vision was on display Monday afternoon as House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, toured New Berlin Eisenhower's different labs and listened to the experiences of students in the high school's various technical programs. Making sure every student is ready for both college and a career has been a focus in the district since 2013.

"All of a sudden, something new comes into Wisconsin and we need to learn how to react together," said Laura Schmidt, strategic advisor to the superintendent.

She explained how New Berlin has revamped its curriculum and goals. Part of this includes a new vision of what a high school graduate should be. The district's Board of Education was the first to approve an "Education for Employment" plan under the new state mandate PI.26 and remains a strong advocate for "Education for Employment" programming, which includes components such as labor market analysis; stakeholder engagement; career awareness, exposure, and preparation among other components. Current Eisenhower upperclassmen were present to share how the school's offerings have made them career ready.

 New Berlin School District Superintendent Joe Garza speaks before Paul Ryan takes the stage.
Kenny Yoo/Special to The Freeman

"I was one of those kids that was like 'I want to go into engineering,' but I didn't know which one," said Ben Blair, who is currently studying digital electronics. He said he was overwhelmed by how many careers in engineering there are, but through the school district, he was able to find a track that interests him. Other students spun the same tale of not knowing quite where their lives would lead them, but ending up having real world, applied experiences. One student already had the opportunity to practice working as a registered nurse.

"Being able to have that jump start in high school is a big advantage," said Ryan after listening to the experiences of Eisenhower's students.

He strongly encouraged students to get experience as early as they can, so they don't head into a career path with a kind of romantic idea of what that job will be like. Ryan said there is a demographic problem in this country. Now that the baby boomer generation is retiring, we don't have enough people to fill in the necessary job positions. Future workers need to find ways to be more productive, with less people existing in the workforce, he said.

"The idea that you're going to have the same job for 40 years - that's just not going to work anymore," said Ryan. "At the federal level, we're trying to respect the fact that our economy needs to be nimble, and give people options."

 House Speaker Paul Ryan addresses a room of students and faculty at
New Berlin Eisenhower on Monday.
Kenny Yoo/Special to The Freeman

He said in Wisconsin, workers need to stay ahead of the curve so that we can have the jobs of tomorrow today. The arrival of Foxconn will make the business an anchor industry in the area and only encourage more growth and development, he said.  The very first step in this process is to have a technically trained workforce. Ryan said he wants to get funding back into the hands of local school districts, so that administrators and educators will be able to update curriculum and classes based off of what will get their students jobs.

His parting words for students: Lead by example and be civil to anyone you may come into contact with.

"What you're doing here is what we're hoping the rest of the state and the country can do," said Ryan.

Email: ahaynes@conleynet.com