PESHTIGO — Peshtigo High School has a vocational studies program created by teacher Dan Vanidestine which partners with local businesses.
Currently, at least 30 local businesses partner with the school to teach work skills to students during their junior and senior years. Core subjects are taught in a hybrid, blended manner to meet graduation requirements while students learn trade and business skills on the job.
Skilled work placements include CNC machining, welding, mechanics, construction and any other types of manufacturing positions.
Many local employers can’t find enough skilled employees. The Peshtigo School District realizes the need to help teach students job skills for the careers that are in demand.
“We have tons of opportunities, lots of good-paying jobs, right here in our community,” Vanidestine said. Nestegg Marine and Riesterer and Schnell are two partner businesses.
“I could clone myself three times and maybe we’d catch up,” Nestegg Marine Service Manager Brian Sislo said, adding that business is so good he can’t hire enough skilled employees to keep up with the work.
Peshtigo Senior Nevyn Demille is learning all aspects of boat and boat engine maintenance and repair at Nestegg Marine of Marinette.
“Work hard now, so you don’t have to struggle as much when you get older,” is advice Demille’s mother, Teresa Demille gave to her children.
Sislo adds, “For his age, Nevyn takes amazing responsibility and retains things learned very well. I give him grade “A’s” all across the board.”
Teresa Demille has been really impressed at how welcoming the team at Nestegg has been to her son. She said, “They work really well to schedule around Nevyn’s school. He’s a hands-on learner who is really doing better in school since working at Nestegg.”
Nestegg is so happy with Demille’s work that they intend to scholarship him to attend a Marine with Diesel Technician program based in Houston.
Tom Fischer, Service Manager at Riesterer and Schnell, served on the Peshtigo School Board for several years and helped to create Peshtigo’s Vocational Studies Program.
Currently, Riesterer and Schnell of Pound employs two Peshtigo students — recent graduate Isaac Jansen, who plans to pursue his career as a diesel mechanic and senior Steven Chaney.
Reisterer and Schnell plan to scholarship Jansen, paying his tuition for a two-year Agricultural Equipment Service Technician degree through Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton.
Fischer adds: “We’re so busy, we have the most technicians we’ve ever had and are looking to add two more. If Steven decides to pursue his career here, we’ll consider sending him to Fox Valley Tech, too, if things continue to go well.”
“I give these kids lots of jobs, teach them everything from the ground-up,” Fischer said
They are learning all aspects of repair and customer service, from simple maintenance to engine rebuilds
“Isaac’s turned into a very determined and confident young man,” said his mother, Betty Jansen said. “As a parent, you can say things over and over to your child, but having them hear it from a boss and from coworkers really has an impact. I cannot put into words the difference this program has made in Isaac’s life and how he viewed school. I am very grateful for these men, Mr. Vanidestine and Mr. Fischer, connecting with and guiding my son.”
Kristy Chaney added, “I’m really excited for Steven. Working at Riesterer and Schnell has given him goals. He is looking to go to college now and hoping to start this spring.”
“This is a win/win for both students and employers,” Vanidestine said. “We get to keep our kids working right here, in our community.”
Students apply in the fall of their junior year, the program starts second semester and continues through their senior year. Students earn good pay, employers can train new employees from the ground-up. Students in this program learn responsibility, work ethic and real-world job skills. They graduate with Wisconsin Employability Skills Certification and a Manufacturing Skills Standard Certificate.
“I would like to thank the businesses in Peshtigo and surrounding communities for hiring Peshtigo students and supporting the Vocational Studies Program”, stated Principal Chad Sodini
Other businesses participating in the Vocational Studies program are: Aacer Flooring, A.N.S. Machine, B & B Electric Inc, BPM Inc, CRM Corporation, Fincantieri Marinette Marine, Frank’s Repair Service, Great Lakes Custom Tool, Iconik Etchings and Innovations, Local 158, Nestegg Marine, PHC, Inc, Riesterer & Schnell Inc, Samuel Pressure Vessel, ThyssenKrupp Waupaca, Unlimited Services and Woller Precision Machine.
Many other businesses, including retail businesses, farms, nursing homes, grocery stores, and construction trades also help teach Peshtigo students through the Work Experience class. Anyone interested in helping the Peshtigo School District teach work skills to help with a business can contact Vanidestine at Peshtigo High School.