Jazlynn Walker is a senior at GPS Education Partners and is expected to graduate in the spring of 2018. She hails from the School District of Marinette in Wisconsin and is enrolled in the Peshtigo BPM, Inc. education center through the GPS Education Partners program. This means she learns in a classroom for up to three hours every weekday and spends the rest of her day learning on-the-job with a business partner, UTC Aerospace Systems in Peshtigo, WI.
While educators know that inconsistent teachings and contradictory home-life create challenges in character development, an immersive, work-based learning environment gives students full access to mentors and role models who can provide stable guidance. And for Jazlynn, UTC Aerospace Systems is just that kind of supportive environment.
Mentoring and access to adult-influencers has created a transformative experience for Jazlynn. In traditional high school, she was like any other teenager—she was on the shy side, she worried about school, she spent time with her friends. Today, her teacher says she carries herself with confidence and purpose.
UTC Aerospace Systems recently gave Jazlynn an employee review. Her energy at work attracted the attention of a new mentor—from outside of her department—whom Jazlynn impressed by how open she is to new possibilities. They love watching her grow, even in how she handles difficult situations. She’s a team player who they want to keep in mind for future employment opportunities.
This is in line with a key teaching philosophy for GPS Education Partners: character and leadership is most transformative when educators demonstrate, teach, and support students while they make the transition from school to adult work-life.
Jazlynn distinguished herself among her peers, too. For example, Jazlynn had an opportunity to play and read with children at a local elementary school. While many teenagers would have clocked-in their service learning hours and called it a day, Jazlynn wholly connected with a first-grade student. She noticed this girl was the only student without her own bean bag chair, so Jazlynn bought a chair for the girl that evening and dropped it off with her teacher the following day.
“What does it mean to be a contributing citizen?” That’s a major project component in the Road to Employability for GPS Education Partners students. A work-based learning environment helps to answer that question by reinforcing commitment to service-learning projects, character and leadership development conversations, and real-world practice.
Moreover, because GPS values are aligned to effective employment and engaged citizenship, its students’ decisions can be understood as “rubber hitting the road” in character and citizenship. In Jazlynn’s case, her skills in teamwork or her initiative, drawn out through work-based learning, may motivate her altruistic instincts.
GPS Education Partners has learned that immersive, work-based learning has the power to drive character into action, lay the foundation for positive role-modeling, and, ultimately, transform young adults. Just ask Jazlynn.