Manufacturer Creates Work-Based Student Learning Program

A Salina area manufacturer is partnering with a couple of Salina area school districts in a new program which will give students real-world work experience.

According to Great Plains Manufacturing they have developed a Work-based Learning Program for area high school students. The GPM Work-based Learning Program will allow students to pursue their career interests and gain hands-on experience while getting paid for their work. 

Great Plains Mfg. developed this program to support its growth and to help area high school students discover and explore their career passions. 

David Disberger, President and CEO of Great Plains Mfg. said, “Manufacturing provides excellent careers to those who have an interest in problem solving, working as a team, and creating new products. Great Plains Mfg. is passionate about extending career opportunities to high school students who enjoy building and creating through welding, carpentry, or working on cars and equipment. We are excited to launch the Work-based Learning Program to introduce students to our manufacturing career opportunities.” 

During the spring semester, four students from USD 305 will work at Great Plains Mfg.’s Salina facility and three USD 306 students will work at the Kipp location, focusing in assembly and other areas. Students will attend class and spend 4-5 hours daily at Great Plains Mfg., where they can learn new skills in a dynamic company. 

Amy Leavy, Great Plains Mfg. Human Resources Director said, “This program offers a blend of classroom education and onthe-job training for high school juniors and seniors. It is designed to pay students while they learn a skilled trade and keep them engaged in school.” 

The GPM Work-based Learning Program is conducted in cooperation with USD 305 and USD 306. Students are selected by each school district for program participation, then they are interviewed by Great Plains Mfg. and placed based on their specific abilities and areas of interest. 

“Salina Public Schools continue to grow greatness through this exciting partnership with Great Plains Manufacturing,” said Dr. Curtis Stevens, Director of Secondary Programs at Salina Public Schools. “This work-based learning experience will permit our students the opportunity to acquire in-demand technical skills that will prepare them for the workforce following high school.” 

Upon successful completion of the program and graduation from high school, students are offered a full-time position at Great Plains Mfg. The new GPM program is expected to continue into the fall semester with future plans to expand into additional area high schools. 

Disberger said, “Our goal is to grow into other communities in the fall, so high school students can experience great careers – right in their hometown! We hope to inspire these students to choose a career in manufacturing and stay in Kansas, where they can earn a sustainable income for their future.

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Photo via Great Plains Manufacturing –

Seven area students have been selected into the Great Plains Manufacturing Work-Based Learning Program in collaboration with USD 305 and USD 306.

Pictured (from L-R, first row): Andrea Young, Counselor, Salina Central High School – USD 305; Carlos Luna, Salina; Jackson Kempke, Gypsum; Lane Fritz, Gypsum; Wade Simpson, Salina; Dr. Curtis Stevens, Director of Secondary Programs, Salina Public Schools – USD 305; (second row) Slade Spratlen, Recruiter, Great Plains Manufacturing; Jim Allen, Counselor, Salina South High School – USD 305; Dammian Hightower, Salina; Trevor McMurray-Dusseau, Salina; Brenton Leeds, Gypsum; Nick Owen, Principal, Southeast of Salina – USD 306; and David Cooper, Grant Writer – USD 305.