Educator Externships Help Connect the Classroom to the Workplace
This summer, more than a dozen educators participated in YouthForce NOLA Educator Externships, a professional development program connecting the classroom to the workplace through experiential learning. Each educator was embedded in a local company in one of YouthForce NOLA’s targeted high-wage, high-demand industries: Digital Media/IT, Health Sciences, and Skilled Crafts.
“Because of my participation in this externship, I was able to verify the timeliness and appropriateness of certain teaching practices I and other colleagues engage in at my school,” said Steven Henry, a science and EMR instructor at Landry-Walker College and Career Preparatory High School, who was placed at LCMC Health for his externship.
The educators learned through direct experience about trends, skill requirements, and opportunities in industries that will strengthen their teaching and bring relevance to student learning.
“The externship opportunity at GE Digital presents many opportunities for our school to think critically about ‘what really matters’ when it comes to being successful at a high-level software company,” said Ryan Stivers, a founding developer coach at Rooted School.
Teachers and instructors gained an appreciation for the value of industry-recognized certifications to employers.
“One of the biggest questions I had was about the AutoDesk Inventor certification that is the ultimate goal of the 3D modeling class I will be teaching. I wanted to know how important something like that was for a company like Entrescan,” said Rae Goldman, a CTE coordinator at New Orleans Charter Science & Math High School.
She learned that the credential, and the skills it represents, are essential but that soft skills are just as important. The value employers place on soft skills was echoed by virtually every educator in the externship program.
“This externship has solidified the importance of incorporating soft-skills into academic curriculum. For my class it means students must be able to work in groups to problem-solve, explore time management tools, and practice interpersonal skills” said Taryn Dunn, a CTE coordinator at KIPP Renaissance who was hosted by Trapolin-Peer Architects.
Many of the educators were hosted at LCMC Health and Ochsner Health System, leading regional employers in the high-wage, high-growth Health Science industry cluster.
“Every single head of department that my cohort met with started our meetings with the same line: ‘We need more healthcare professionals!’ The average age of non-physician healthcare professionals is climbing each year and a severe shortage is less than 10 years away. It is more important than ever to help our students attain the skills and success they need to fill these valued positions,” said Matthew Firmin, a who was hosted at hospitals managed by LCMC Health. “I will use what I learned to help connect classroom experiences with the skills needed in the healthcare industry and help my fellow teachers plan for the success of their students with long term goals in mind. I think that more science teachers across the city should partake in this extremely valuable externship.”
Special Thanks to Educator Externship Employer Partners