Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - On February 6, 2024, Governor Greg Gianforte visited Glacier High School and highlighted recent investments to expand work-based learning opportunities in Montana schools. He spoke with students and educators on the impact of the program. 

“Working together with our partners in the legislature, we’re helping schools push beyond the traditional brick and mortar to prepare students for their future and build a highly skilled, highly qualified workforce,” Gianforte said. “Through our investments, we’re bringing education closer to the marketplace to create better outcomes for our students.” 

During the most recent legislative session, Gianforte reformed the Advanced Opportunities Program to support schools in expanding work-based and personalized learning opportunities for students. House Bill 257 doubles the amount of funding individual elementary, high school, and K-12 districts may receive through the program while increasing the percentage of funding that goes directly to students. 

In its second year, Glacier High School’s work-based learning program offered 44 students internship opportunities through its partnerships with over 75 local businesses. These internships range from plumbing and electrical work to law, medicine, engineering, and opportunities through other small businesses. 

Kelsea Bemis, a senior at Glacier High and a student participating in an internship through Code Girls United, shared her thoughts on the program. 

“Whether my internship is at a nonprofit, a law firm, or an engineering firm – wherever it is, it’s giving me applicable experience,” Bemis said. “Instead of just being able to learn something within the four walls of a classroom, I am able to change my perspective and learn how to communicate. At the end of the day, that’s what I am going to take with me to any profession.” 

According to Kalispell Public Schools Assistant Superintendent Peter Fusaro, the additional funding has been a huge help. 

“With the backing from the legislature and from our board, we now have the funding to model what some of the best schools in the nation are doing,” Fusaro said. “Getting our students outside of the walls of the classroom and providing them with personalized learning allows them to explore their options and be truly engaged in their own education.” 

Gianforte also met with students in an Intro to Engineering class and fielded questions on his advice for students looking to pursue a career in engineering. 

“Young Montanans should have the opportunity to develop their career interests in school, whether it's woodworking or engineering,” Gianforte said. “Proud to celebrate our progress getting more students involved with hands-on work-based learning opportunities.” 

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