Building School Partnerships
Construction and Skilled Trade Careers

C.D. Smith's K-12 School Partnerships for Construction and Skilled Trade Career Pathways 


"Mentoring students in skills that transcend construction."



February is Career and Technical Education Month®, or CTE Month®. K-12 Academic and Career Planning (ACP) is part of the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) initiative of ensuring every child graduates with the tools necessary for making informed career decisions. C.D. Smith's School Partnership Program provides an inside peek and hands-on learning for K-12 students interested in careers in construction. We share in the DPI's vision of preparing students for high-wage, high-demand careers. We're celebrating Career and Technical Education Month® by sharing why K-12 Academic and Career Planning is so important and how we're partnering with schools to bring awareness to construction and skilled trade career pathways.  

Like any great story, ours is about adapting and pioneering innovative solutions for overcoming challenges. The Fond du Lac ACE Academy was born from recognizing the realities of C.D. Smith’s workforce: for every skilled worker we hired, we lost multiple to retirement. C.D. Smith spearheaded a campaign to transform Fond du Lac High School’s fledgling construction curriculum from an add-on course taught in the corner of a classroom to a flagship operation housed in a purpose-built, 6,000 square foot industrial facility.

C.D. Smith Construction Building School Partnerships for Construction and Skilled Trades Career and Technical Education

Wisconsin is particularly hard-hit with the nation’s demographic and geographic shifts; many counties in Wisconsin see rapid population decline in terms of age and raw numbers. Young people do not regard Wisconsin as a “destination” location, leaving even fewer entrants to the construction trades.

The Fond du Lac High School ACE Academy grew quickly, from 30 students to over 130 diverse and coeducational enrollees. It has tripled its class offerings and features instructors from 16 trades representing over 40 area businesses. The Fond du Lac ACE Academy partners with local technical colleges and apprenticeship programs to truly and seamlessly breathe new life into the area’s skilled workforce. Students entering engineering- or architectural-related colleges have the advantage of semesters or years of experience in their class topics. ACE Academy graduates find ready employment in school-to-work programs with the very businesses who instructed them in the classroom and have found permanent employment earning living wages immediately.

C.D. Smith Construction Building School Partnerships for Construction and Skilled Trades Career and Technical Education

2021 marks the second year the academy is in partnership with C.D. Smith Construction to build an Ice Shanty for sturgeon spearing, available for sale upon completion. The ACE Shanties project allows ACE students to participate in one of the community’s great traditions: the annual sturgeon spearing festivities on Lake Winnebago, one of the world’s only freshwater sturgeon fisheries.  The C.D. Smith-led project allows ACE Academy students to build sturgeon shanties, which will be sold at auction to provide funding, visibility, and excitement to the school.

C.D. Smith Construction Building School Partnerships for Construction and Skilled Trades Career and Technical Education

The Fond du Lac ACE academy is guided in part by the same local businesses that will hire its graduates, offering students the opportunity to learn from experts in a unique, hands-on environment outside of the basic classroom walls. The students who come out of programs like the Fond du Lac ACE Academy give us confidence in a competent and skilled workforce for the next generation of employees at C.D. Smith.

Date: Feb 4, 2021 | Author: Tricia Muellenbach

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About C.D. Smith

C.D. Smith Construction is a nationally recognized industry leader in safely providing the highest quality commercial construction services. Utilizing an integrated approach and in-house technical expertise, our team serves as a solutions provider throughout all phases of a project, from planning through closeout. With veteran leadership and dedication to our employees and clients, we proudly place our name on projects of all sizes across the United States.

We Build Careers!
We Build Careers!

C.D. Smith Construction offers a wide variety of growth opportunities in the trades. Start as a laborer and work your way into an apprenticeship program that best suits your interests and skills.

You can make a comfortable living and build your retirement while earning your education. Apprenticeships offer on the job training and are 100% paid!



» Health Insurance
» Pension
» Paid Apprenticeship


» Valid Drivers License
» Age 18 or Older
» High School Diploma or GED


» Laborer
» Concrete Finisher
» Mason
» Carpenter
» Ironworker
» Operator

Click the 'We Build Careers!' link to request more information.

Get in Touch

Corporate Headquarters
125 Camelot Drive
Fond du Lac, WI 54935

Milwaukee Office
241 North Broadway
Suite 400
Milwaukee, WI 53202

Madison Office
316 West Washington Avenue
Suite 900 
Madison, WI 53703

La Crosse Office
333 Front Street North
Suite 701 
La Crosse, WI 54601

Ready to build community and get connected with commercial construction expertise? Use the below form to submit questions or request information. We look forward to learning more and discovering how we can make YOUR PROJECT. OUR PRIORITY.®.