Teacher Externships Drive Opportunity
Well Connected - Fall | Winter 2019
Not many appreciate the summer months quite like a teacher. But for Jacob Oyster, this summer break provided the perfect opportunity to broaden the horizons and possibilities for his agriculture science students at Sebeka High School.
In 2018, Sourcewell introduced an externship program for regional educators. The program pays educators to spend one week with a local business. The intent is to not only help build school-to-business relationships, but to connect educators and classrooms with real-world skills.
Sebeka Public Schools Principal Amie Westberg said her district participates in several Sourcewell offerings, including Tech Mobile, networking groups, the Minnesota Summit for Learning and Leading, and much more. When she learned of the opportunity for paid externships, she didn't hesitate to share it with her teachers.
“When students ask us, ‘Where are we going to use this?’ sometimes it's hard to give examples,” Westberg explained.
For one week in July, Oyster traded his teacher hat for a traffic vest and joined the crew of Cooperative Network Services based in Menahga. CNS provides a variety of services, including Geographic Information System (GIS), telecommunications, and outsourced services.
“Telecommunications is the wave of the future,” Oyster added. “There are so many careers related to GIS and using GPS. And by sharing these [employment] opportunities right here in our backyard, students can stay in the area and work in a field that will be around long into the future.”
The externship also gave Oyster an opportunity to get hands-on experience with equipment he already has in the classroom and discover new techniques he can build into his curriculum. It also established connections with a local business, providing him and his students with a valued resource in the field.
Westberg said by creating a career-to-classroom gateway, these externships also benefit the community by retaining and recruiting a future workforce.
“When they [staff] can bring the techniques and experiences back to the classroom, it can make what they are teaching more credible,” Westberg said. “When students can understand the ‘why’ they tend to want to learn more.”
Check out the video of the externship in action at Sourcewell's Facebook page.
Sourcewell (formerly National Joint Powers Alliance) is a self-supporting government organization, partnering with education, government, and nonprofits to boost student and community success. Created in 1978 as one of Minnesota's nine service cooperatives, we offer training and shared services to our central-Minnesota members. Throughout North America, we offer a cooperative purchasing program with more than 325 awarded vendors on contract. Sourcewell is driven by service and the ability to strategically reinvest in member communities.