More teachers building connections between industry and classroom

Good teachers know how to inspire students by using the world around them. And that’s just what about 100 HISD educators have been doing this month through Teacher Externship Week, a program sponsored by Linked Learning in order to promote job-based education.

Various industries agreed to host core curriculum teachers for a week so that the latter could acquire first-hand experience and insights into career paths. After shadowing employers, teachers will bring their newfound wisdom back to the classroom this fall. Externship locations included the Houston Public Library, the Federal Reserve Bank Cybersecurity branch, Memorial Hermann Hospital, and the Houston Fire Department, among others.

Three teachers from Lee High School used the week to tour Vaughn Construction sites, including the massive George R. Brown Convention Center project. This has given them exposure to the wide range and depth of career opportunities within construction.

“There’s a whole wealth of job opportunities here, and I had no idea until just a couple days ago that it even existed,” said world history teacher Celia Tovar.

The Lee teachers saw computer software that plans construction and the bidding process for sub-contractors, as well as the physical installment of concrete and steel.

“What I’ve learned about the chemistry of concrete is a model that I can use in my classroom,” said chemistry teacher Stafford McCaskill. “The kids can see this is not something that’s just on a sheet of paper, this is the real world. This is something the construction industry makes billions of dollars with.”

The Vaughn Construction managers are happy to inform teachers about in-demand skills, wages, and the typical technology, as it benefits them to encourage students to pursue construction careers.

“I’m not really sure kids understand how many opportunities there are,” said Vaughn production manager Lenny Enderle. “It’s not just jobs, it’s careers that are available to them.”

This is the Teacher Externship Program’s second year, and its creators hope it will expand even further in years to come.

“We plan on continuing the growth with companies throughout the Houston area so we can provide externships for any HISD high school teacher who wants to take part,” said Dana Sturdevant, manager of HISD Career and Technical Education.

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