Give Back MKE Live 2021: GPS Education Partners

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Sameria Norrington was a junior at Wauwatosa West High School when a guidance counselor told her about GPS Education Partners. She was interested in a career in the trades, and GPSEd’s Manufacturing Youth Apprenticeship Program offered her the chance to work directly with local companies and learn skills on site that she never could have learned in a traditional classroom. It was the perfect fit.

Her senior year, Norrington spent half of her days in a classroom at a GPSEd Education Center, and then spent the other half at manufacturing companies like Bradley Corp. and Danfoss. She learned welding, woodworking and other skills, and when she graduated, Danfoss offered her a full-time job.

Three years later, Norrington still works in manufacturing and recently formed an LLC to start a farming business. She attributes much of her success to GPSEd. “My teachers were the best teachers in the world,” she says. “They’re super supportive. They give you a lot of love, and they will not let you fail.”

Photo courtesy of GPS Education Partners

GPSEd’s model has been gaining more attention in recent years. Last year, in partnership with Milwaukee Public Schools, GPSEd launched an early career awareness program pilot that gave freshmen a chance to see what a career in manufacturing could look like. There are now plans to build more programs for other fields, like IT and hospitality. “Milwaukee is seeing the need

for talent to be developed in these careers,” says Laura Derpinghaus, the director of communications for GPSEd.

GPSEd’s success has also drawn attention outside Wisconsin. In 2020, it worked with the DuPage County Regional Office of Education in Illinois to design a pilot program. And GPSEd received a request for a similar program from the Anoka-Hennepin school system in Minnesota and launched another pilot.

“Our Manufacturing Youth Apprenticeship Program really opens students’ eyes to the possibilities,” Derpinghaus says.

“Sameria knew traditional high school wasn’t working for her. She had a vision for herself and she saw this opportunity and took full advantage of it. There are great jobs out there that do not require a four-year college degree, and getting to test drive them through a work-based learning program is a win-win for both students and employers.”

What We Do:

  • GPS Education Partners trains high school students for careers in the trade and technical fields.
  • GPSEd’s Manufacturing Youth Apprenticeship Program partners students with manufacturing companies for on-site learning that prepares them for success in their careers.

Where Your Money Goes:

  • Donations support work-based learning programs for underprivileged students by helping cover program and credentialing fees, technology costs, mentor training and more.
  • Funds also support GPSEd’s learning experiences for younger students, which provide classes, experiences and workshops to promote early career awareness in multiple fields.

20633 Watertown Ct.,
Suite 202, Waukesha


This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s December issue.

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