Return to Headlines

Students Graduate from Craftman with Character Program


Beloit, Wisconsin, January 17, 2023 – Beloit Memorial High School celebrated the graduation of Ayden Armao, Dustin Foss, Armando Gonzalez, Kaleef Hobson-Thomas, Curtez McAlister, Mitchell Stuessy, and Trinity Winfield from the Craftsman with Character program.

The Craftsman with Character program is designed to run each weekday for ninety minutes. Four days are spent job shadowing and immersing students in work while gaining knowledge about a trade. The remaining day offers classroom instruction, where students explore life goals and are encouraged to recognize their unique gifts and talents. Special emphasis is given to helping them realize their self-worth.

This is the first time Craftsman with Character was offered outside of Edgerton, Wisconsin, so therefore, a first in the City of Beloit. “Over the past ten years, I’ve spoken to many communities about the need to provide career paths for high school students through mentoring relationships in local businesses like we’ve done in Edgerton. Everyone agrees this is a tremendous need, but Beloit is the first community to truly come together as partners between the School District of Beloit and business community to make it happen,” said Egerton Gear President and Founder of Craftsman with Character, Dr. David Hataj.

Plans for expansion throughout the U.S. are in the works. “Our dream is to have Craftsman with Character communities throughout the U.S. where we facilitate partnerships between businesses and schools,” said Hataj. “There are millions of untapped mentors in local businesses and millions of students who want to be mentored for meaningful careers that students have no idea even exist. In a word, it’s dignity; restoring dignity to working Americans who can pass on the dignity of meaningful work to the next generation.”

Superintendent Dr. Garrison shared that this is just another example of how the School District of Beloit continues to lead the way in offering students career and college opportunities with the collaboration of many community and business partners. “Work-based learning opportunities help our students prepare for a career, engage with potential employers, develop job skills, hone work-based social skills, and create a pathway to First and Foremost, for Our Students. Graduates of the School District of Beloit are Career, College, and Community Ready! Our students have a skill set that includes and describes them as fearless learners, ambitious innovators, global contributors, resilient leaders, critical thinkers, and effective communicators.

We are committed to excellence and diversity and prepare and inspire every student to succeed in life and contribute to an ever-changing world. college. Our district is grateful for the Craftsman with Character program and the businesses and organizations that made it happen for our students.”

Robert Hendrickson, Technical Director for Frito-Lay, took the lead in getting area business, civic, and higher education partners to collaborate with Beloit Memorial High School, including Blackhawk Technical College, City of Beloit, CCI, Frito-Lay, Scot Forge, and The Morse Group. “I want to thank the business partners, students, the staff at Beloit Memorial and Blackhawk Technical College for their support with the inaugural year of this program in Beloit. It’s been a great experience not only for students but the businesses and adult mentors as well.”

Hendrickson stated that he was impressed with the maturity of the Beloit Memorial High School students and that it was inspiring to see the personal development of each student throughout the semester. “I’m looking forward to continuing the program in 2023 and ensuring a strong work pipeline of talent in the Beloit community.”

Curtez McAlister, a junior at Beloit Memorial High School and program graduate appreciated participating in Craftsman with Character, “The program mentors taught me different skills and ideas. I made many professional connections and learned about the career opportunities available in our area. Everything is coming together to help me be ready to work towards my dream of owning my own business.”

Deb Prowse, Career Academy Coach, echoed the sentiments shared by McAlister, “We want our students to graduate career, college, and community ready. Craftsman with Character is a unique program that exposes our students to a world of opportunity right here in Beloit and Rock County, thus ensuring that our students succeed in school and life.”

The District outpaced the state in providing work-based learning opportunities for students with 9.8% of students participating in these opportunities compared to 3.4% across the state.