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The University Star


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SMCISD teacher externship program shows exponential growth


Photo credit: Photo Courtesy of Mike Doyle

A growing program organized by SMCISD in collaboration with Workforce Solutions Rural Capital Area and the San Marcos Area Chamber of Commerce finished its fourth summer of teacher externships. Students were allowed the opportunity to learn real-world career skills through their teachers’ experience.
The San Marcos Consolidated Independent School Districts’ Teacher Externship Program launched summer 2019 with 26 middle and high school teacher volunteers. The program offers teachers and faculty the opportunity to shadow local business owners and employees to glean skills and insights that can be taught in a classroom setting.
Every year, Workforce Solutions reaches out to school districts and the chambers of commerce in the counties of Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Fayette, Hays, Lee, Llano and Williamson to organize an externship program. The initiative has consistently displayed a rising number of contributors.
According to Workforce Solutions, the total number of educators involved per year with the teacher externships has increased from 20 to 212 in four years, a 960% jump in participation regionally and 73.3% increase in San Marcos. In total, about 75,750 students have been impacted regionally over the course of four years and 9,540 locally.
Paul Fletcher, chief executive officer of Workforce Solutions, said for every teacher who participates in shadowing a business, about 200 students are impacted as a result.
“Teachers seem to love it; the businesses they go to are very appreciative of having them,” Fletcher said. “Teachers really feel like they learned a real-world application they can take back to the kids.”
Megan Balding, health science teacher at San Marcos High School, participated in the externship for her third time and shadowed Premier ER over the summer. Balding learned the differences between hospital and standalone ERs as well as the aspects of employability.
“Every time I do these externships it is so nice because I meet people in the community that can serve as guest speakers for the kids,” Balding said.
During the program, teachers volunteer and local businesses are contacted through the Chamber of Commerce. The types of businesses involved have varied in range from manufacturing to hotel management. Insight on over 50 different subjects have been explored through shadowing businesses.
According to Mike Doyle, federal program director of SMCISD, finding businesses to accept teachers was not a problem.
“Our business community is amazing in the fact we get an overwhelming response,” Doyle said. “The businesses are very open to our teachers.”
After businesses and teachers agree to participate, they are paired based on a set of criteria that takes into consideration what the teacher instructs and what they would like to learn. Teachers spend one day on orientation, three days of working on site with their business and a final day to develop curriculum for their students.
Although the program lasts for five days, an effort is made by teachers to make the most of their time even after the externship is long over.
Jason Mock, chief executive officer of the San Marcos Chamber of Commerce, said it has been a win-win for both the teachers and businesses.
“The program has opened doors lasting longer than the three days (on site) and has allowed businesses to become engaged with both teachers and students throughout the school year,” Mock said.
With positive feedback and productive results, the program is expected to grow. The more teachers that volunteer to participate, the more students will be impacted.

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