During her sophomore year at Kettle Moraine High School in Wales, Wis., about 30 miles outside Milwaukee, Tara Britten ditched class and was in danger of expulsion. “They thought I was stupid,” Britten says. “Nobody would challenge me at the level I needed to be challenged at, so it made me angry and bored.”
Her attitude changed last fall when the 16-year-old junior started participating in a nonprofit program called Second Chance Partners that teaches high schoolers skills they can use for manufacturing jobs. Britten, who was not expecting to graduate, is now earning $8 an hour working for a local manufacturer and completing her high school curriculum. She’s also learning such skills as welding and reading blueprints and is confident she can get a shipyard welding job that pays $15 an hour and offers benefits when she graduates next year.