Building School Partnerships
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 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.
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.
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.
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: C.D. Smith
Fond du Lac School District received the 2022 Horizon Award for serving to enhance learning experiences with positive impacts on the horizon for Wisconsin's construction industry.
Bob Barker, Executive Vice President at AGC of Wisconsin, presented the Horizon Award at their Awards Banquet on Thursday, October 6th, saying, "We're taking Fond du Lac, quite honestly, to be our model (to take around) to all the high schools around the state."
Barker thanked industry supporters; skilled trades mentors; Bob Roehrig of County Materials Corporation; Vern Widmer, Building Construction Instructor at Fond du Lac High School; and everyone who developed and contributed to the ACE Academy program before introducing the Superintendent for Fond Du Lac Public School District, Dr. Jeffery Fleig, to accept the award.
"I'm very fortunate to have walked into an outstanding partnership with C.D. Smith Construction (and) J.F. Ahern, who have really blazed a trail along with AGC," said Dr. Jeffery Fleig.
He continued by recognizing Vern Widmer as an outstanding educator, "When Vern started in 2016, we had 35 students sign up. 181 this year."
The Horizon Award recognizes how an individual or organization promotes the construction industry, builds construction industry relationships, promotes future positive contributions to the industry and enhances the image of the industry.
Date: October 10, 2022 | Author: Tracy Lisowe
FOND DU LAC ACE MASONRY WEEK 2022
This week (Sept. 19-22) is masonry week for students participating in Fond du Lac High School's Architecture Construction Engineering (ACE) curriculum, also known as ACE Academy. As part of the ACE program, C.D. Smith masons Jim Burg and Mark Hau are spending time building masonry structures with students, laying bricks in a practice area equipt with all of the tools and materials needed to get their hands dirty.
Along with spreading awareness about everything a construction career has to offer, hands-on education and mentorship are critical parts of shaping a promising future in the skilled trades for the next generation. Thank you to all of the academic and hands-on instructors and skilled tradespeople who're mentoring students in masonry construction and more. We appreciate you and the opportunity to be a part of unique, hands-on learning opportunities outside of classroom walls.
Date: Sep 22, 2022 | Author: Tracy Lisowe
FOND DU LAC ACE MASONRY WEEK 2021
C.D. Smith Construction continues to stay firmly vested in educating and mentoring the next generation of construction workers in all trades. As part of the ACE program in the Fond du Lac School District, C.D. Smith masons Ken Hellmen and Jed Ermer spent the week installing brick facing on the exterior of the ACE storage building with the assistance of students and volunteers. Thanks Ken and Jed for all your work!
Date: Sep 27, 2021 | Author: Molly Haack
About C.D. Smith
C.D. Smith Construction is an industry leader in safely providing the highest quality commercial construction services. Utilizing an integrated approach and self-performing trade services combined with technical expertise, our team serves as a solutions provider throughout all phases of a project, from planning through construction. With veteran leadership and a dedication to our employees and clients, we proudly place our name on projects of all sizes across the United States.
Visit www.cdsmith.com or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube.
Beneath the Hard Hat®, our company press and blog, offers an intimate look at the people and stories that make C.D. Smith Construction. With the latest industry news and project updates, we share insights on the superior spaces we are safely delivering year-round. Our team of technical experts provides useful tips and topics to help plan your next commercial project.
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Are you looking to build your career with an industry leader in construction? We'd love to hear from you!
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.
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!
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» Age 18 or Older
» High School Diploma or GED
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125 Camelot Drive
Fond du Lac, WI 54935
241 North Broadway
Milwaukee, WI 53202
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Madison, WI 53703
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La Crosse, WI 54601
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