Purpose of the T-STEM Externship Grant

The T-STEM Externship Grant was designed to provide opportunities for teachers to see industry from the inside through a summer externship, allowing them a more relevant understanding of what industry employers are looking for in their employees. Armed with real-world information about industry and an understanding of the knowledge and skills students need to be successful in the professional world, teachers are able to bring lessons learned to their classrooms in order to more adequately prepare students for future employment. Although the impact on teachers and students is clear, it is also important to note that industries benefit from grants like these as well. The externship experience helps teachers ensure that local talent will possess skills matched to available jobs. Thereby, this grant helps to build a pipeline of prepared and employable workers specifically for local industry.

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Requirements

To qualify for the T-STEM Externship Grant, applicants were required to show how they would use funding to support teachers in authentically engaging with the workforce and industry partners. Schools were responsible for reaching out to local businesses to solicit externship opportunities. Businesses selected for the partnership had to be matched to school pathways for alignment between the teachers’ experience and high-leverage impact on student learning. This selection process in itself led to lessons learned. In Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District, the work required to ensure that externship partners matched growing industries that would need an employee pipeline led to the surprising discovery that Hidalgo County had a 1.7% job growth rate heavily aligned to the Information and Computer Technology cluster. Other strong industries included finance and banking.

In addition to the externship experience and impact on students through lesson planning, applicants were required to show how they would document their experience and create tool kits or resource guides for external replication. These tool kits and resource guides included a 3-year plan for sustainability and expansion of their own program.

Results and Impact

Grant funding was used for outreach as well as for externships. Schools and districts engaged partners through welcome breakfasts and luncheons, provided travel to externship sites, purchased PBL supplies and training for teachers who would connect industry experience to PBL units and paid training stipends for participating teachers. These opportunities led to lesson plans for teachers and counselors, complete PBL units, and videos about industry and industry partners. Just as importantly, the partnership between teachers and external businesses strengthened internship networks for students. Also created as a part of the Externship Grant were brochures to increase awareness of externship programs and presentations to the community, business partners and staff.

In total, the Externship Grant disbursed $51,000 to three districts—Harmony, Judson and PSJA—to provide opportunities for 26 teachers who directly impacted over 2,000 students. Teachers who engaged in the externships also built partnerships that will allow for ongoing student internship opportunities, and they shared and will continue to share lessons learned as well as specific instructional plans with their colleagues, ensuring that the impact will extend beyond the 2,000 students directly impacted this year.
 

Impact Story

In Judson ISD, 13 teachers across nine campuses took advantage of the externship opportunity to engage in a summer externship program supported and enhanced by simultaneous training in PBL. Teachers in the district visited San Antonio Water Systems, Accenture, CPS Energy, San Antonio Food Bank, HEB Metrix 360 Lab, Joeris Construction, SA Tomorrow and USAA and created a PBL opportunity for students based on their externship experiences. Through their externships, teachers learned about the skills necessary for industry and also learned that companies in the district were willing to engage with schools to instruct students in their areas of expertise. Just as importantly, teachers gained a network of companies for student internships and future employment.

Through the accompanying PBL training, teachers further expanded their networks to include colleagues with whom to engage in supportive conversation for professional growth and development related to PBL, as well as industry partners and real-world, employability skills. For Deborah Rice, former K–12 STEM Director for Judson ISD, the most exciting outcomes of the grant were the increased interaction with companies that grew teachers’ skill sets and the excitement resulting from the grant opportunity. According to Rice, after the experience, teachers werre excited to continue to grow their understanding of industry and were willing to give time and effort to create expanded and real-world opportunities for students. Weeks after the internship was over, teachers had already scheduled field externships for their students aligned to their PBL units, allowing students to develop a greater understanding of industry partners in the San Antonio area.

The excitement throughout the district for these opportunities was felt not only by teachers who participated in this summer’s externship and training but even for teachers at the elementary level who were excited about growing the program from the ground up. Judson ISD has plans to expand the program throughout the district and, over the next three years, grow the industry partner base from 42 businesses to 75 businesses, which will provide a strong mentoring and field experience base for all students.

Implementation Tips

Through solicitation of applications and implementation of grants, Educate Texas has identified a number of tips most likely to make this type of grant successful. These include the following:

  • Incentivize regional workforce groups for increased participation.
  • Work closely with chambers of commerce and regional workforce development groups (especially in small and rural communities) for a wider variety of business partnerships.
  • Ensure that applicants understand the connection between externship placement and classroom teaching.
  • Ensure that applicants understand the requirements for selecting business partners: partners must come from industries most likely to need a pipeline of employees within 3–5 years and should be specific to the region and local economy.
  • Ensure that business partners understand the purpose of the grant; teachers should be engaged in opportunities that allow them to see the full range of knowledge and skills required in the industry (not just administrative tasks).
  • Include requirement for a clear and measurable impact on the classroom.
  • Include documentation plan to share with others.
  • Ensure that teachers who will be doing the externship are involved in the application process for increased buy-in.

Artifacts

Extern Peer Presentation Template

This list is to serve as a general framework to assist students with video presentation planning about their externship

This resource developed by Judson ISD is a power point presentation for teachers/Externs that provides the essential project design elements to develop a PBL lesson using the externship experience to enhance classroom instruction that connects with business and industry.

How could I use this resource?

Campuses can utilize this resource for professional development and/or professional learning communities to promote teacher collaboration in the development of PBL lessons.
1. The leader must review the entire presentation and divide the power point into sections for the length of time utilized for professional development.
2. The leader should align power point slides with the professional development goals.  i.e. PBL instruction, Externships, connecting workplace learning to classroom instruction, etc.
3. Allow teachers to work on the activities and provide teachers ample time to collaborate.
4. Decide upon a launch date and launch the project.
5. Utilize additional PLC time to evaluate the project and determine areas that need improvement and successes.
6. Challenge teachers to complete another PBL lesson..

Why is this resource useful?

This resource will be valuable for any campus that need additional resources for training teachers in project-based learning.   It also provides teachers the opportunity to collaborate with each other as well as provide a practical approach to PBL.  Campuses interested in making the connection with businesses, STEM fields, and careers, and the classroom can utilize this resource as a starting point to develop their externship program.  

Externship Eligibility Form

Form used to narrow the selection process of students to participate in the externship

This resource, developed by Harmony School of Science – San Antonio, is used to ensure that the students meet the academic and disciplinary requirements to participate in the Student Internship Program.

How could I use this resource?

1. The students must obtain the signature of teachers certifying that the student is passing all grades and is eligible to participate in the Student Internship Program. 
2. The student must obtain the signature of the Dean of Discipline to certify that the student meets that disciplinary requirement to participate.
3. The Student must attach this form to their completed application to the Internship Program.
4. A student that does not meet the requirement should be referred to the counselor and dean to establish an improvement plan and a pathway to eligibility.

Why is this resource useful?

The Student Internship program is an exciting opportunity available to the students.   There are more students interested in participating in the program than available Internships.  This tool is used to ensure that the student meets the academic and disciplinary requirements to participate in the program.  This resource is used to narrow the pool of applicants.  Students also gain experience in the area of completing applications and necessary requirements for continuing education opportunities.  To ensure the success of the Internship program, the school needs to ensure that the student is academically able to handle the Internship and represent the school well.

Externship Permission Slip

Form for parents to grant permission to participate in externships

Permission must be obtained from the Parent/Legal Guardian to take and transport students to a school-sponsored event/program. All students must submit a properly completed and signed Permission Slip and Release Form signed by the student’s parent or legal guardian.

Why is this resource useful?

It is most District’s policy to seek permission from parents to transport students to school-sponsored activities.  By signing the form, the parent/legal guardian affirms they have allowed the child to participate in the school-sponsored activity and affirms that they have read the Emergency Consent and Release Form and they understand the contents of the form.   Information on the forms also allows the school to act in the case of an emergency.  Such policies exist to protect the student while in the custody and control of the school.

Externship Photo Permission

Permission must be obtained from the Industry Partners to photographer their work facilities and employees.   A permission slip must be signed and dated by the appropriate Industry personnel.

How could I use this resource?

1. Prior to taking any photos and publish that document the Externship Program, the Stem Coordinator or authorized personnel must seek permission from the Industry Partner to photograph its facilities and employees. 
2. The permission form granting or not granting permission must be signed and dated by the Business Industry Externship host authorized personnel
3. The signed and completed form should be returned to the Stem Coordinator or the authorized representative for filing and reference. 

Why is this resource useful?

It is most Districts’ policy to seek permission before photographing and publishing individuals.
It may be deemed illegal to take and publish photographs on private property without permission.  The activity may be deemed as trespassing.  If granted permission, taking a photo of the worksite and its employees during the externship program is a valuable tool used to document the program and its successes.   The publishing of the photos documents the program success and is an excellent marketing tool for the STEM program and the related Industry Partner.   Industry Partners also benefit from the exposure of their participation in the Externship Program. 

Externship Student Application Checklist

Checklist of requirements to narrow the selection process for students to participate in the externship and show the level of student interest and commitment to the project

This resource developed by Harmony School of Science – San Antonio is used for students to make application to participate in the Student Internship Program.

How could I use this resource?

1. The students must first determine eligibility to participate in the Internship Program by obtaining the necessary signatures on the Student Intern Eligibility form.
2. If a student meets the requirement then they must complete the Internship Application and
include the following information

  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Statement of Education Goals
  • Permission Slip
  • Student Intern Eligibility Form

3. Completed applications should be forwarded to Stem Coordinator.
4. The Stem Coordinator must establish the selection process,.i.e. a selection committee, or a blind lottery etc.

Why is this resource useful?

Whereas the Blueprint requires all STEM students have an opportunity to participate in work-based learning,  this application process is necessary to select students to participate in an internship.  Students also  gain experience in the area of completing applications and necessary requirements for continuing education opportunities.  The application process along with a selection process will select the best student candidates for these opportunities.   To ensure the success of the Internship program, the school needs to ensure that the students selected will represent the school well.   Partnership and alliances are also strengthened by a successful student internship program. 

Student Survey Questions

This artifact was created and administered to the 8th grade students to gauge prior knowledge of careers

The resource was developed by Harmony School of Science- San Antonio for students who will be attending an internship.  After the internship, students will develop a presentation that will be presented to 8th grade students to provide information about the various pathways that are offered at the high school campus.

How could I use this resource?

1. The survey should be administered to students at the beginning of 8th grade.
2. Data collected should be summarized and analyzed by the Stem Coordinator or appropriate personnel. 
3. Information should be reviewed to determine the student's Stem career knowledge.
4. Information gathered should be used to assist in the development of student instructional support plans for the Stem career pathways and assist the campus in aligning pathway offerings and student interest.
5. The information should be reviewed with students and counselors to assist in determining the best pathway for the student. 
6. The survey questionnaire should also be periodically reviewed with the goals in alignment with the survey’s purpose and the related benchmarks.

Why is this resource useful?

A survey is an excellent tool to collect feedback from a primary stakeholder - the student.   This information and feedback should be used to identify areas of strength and weaknesses in the student's understanding of the Stem Pathways.  This data can also provide opportunities for the campus to strengthen its support plans for students thus yielding greater student success.   The tool should be shared with other campuses to establish a district-wide survey which increases the participant population and yields more reliable and actionable data.  Any improvement to this process will directly benefit the STEM Education Program.

Teacher Externship Program Application & Pre-Survey Form

This resource developed by Judson ISD is a Teacher Externship Placement form that captures the teacher’s interest, education, academic field, areas of expertise and industry experience

This resource developed by Judson ISD is a Teacher Externship Placement form that captures the teacher’s interest, education, academic field, areas of expertise and industry experience.

How could I use this resource?

1. Teachers complete the Externship placement form.
2. The Applicants information is reviewed by the STEM Coordinator or appropriate personnel for completeness and interest. 
3. The applicant is then matched with Industry partners to align the teacher’s interest and skillset with an industry partner.

Why is this resource useful?

It is important to align a Teacher’s interest and expertise with an industry partner.  This alignment heightens teacher interest and maximizes their skills and knowledge and thus the success of the partnership and the STEM program.

Externship Student Reflection Checklist

Reflection tool designed to help guide students during the externship experience itself

The resource was developed by Harmony School of Science- San Antonio for students who will be attending an internship.  After the internship, students will develop a presentation that will be presented to 8th grade students to provide information about the various pathways that are offered at the high school campus.

How could I use this resource?

Explained the internship process to students and discuss the students’ responsibilities.
2. Distribute the checklist and explain that the checklist will assist the students in gathering information about the career.  Encourage students to ask questions that are of interest to them that may not appear of the checklist.
3. Encourage students to be creative in developing their presentation

Why is this resource useful?

This resource can be utilized by others to assist students in gathering information about careers.  Even though it was developed for the internship, it can be utilized to assist students when doing research on a particular STEM career as well.

Teacher Externship Journal

Key questions to be gathered during the course of a teacher's externship

This resource developed by Judson ISD is a comprehensive journal completed by the Extern to document the experience by providing detail information in three major areas: Background Information, Externship Experience, and Industry/Business Perception.

How could I use this resource?

1. This tool should be provided to the Teacher at the beginning of the Externship.
2. The Extern should journal their experience for the duration of the Externship.
3. The Extern will be required to interview Industry partner employees to include their input and feedback.  
4. This completed journal is submitted to the STEM Coordinator or the appropriate personnel.  
5. Information gathered from this journal should be summarized and communicated to the Program Coordinator and Industry Partner.  The information should be used to make recommendations for improvements and enhancements to the Externship program..

Why is this resource useful?

The Extern Journal log is an excellent record of the Extern’s experience and will provide immediate feedback that can be used to determine the effectiveness of the program.   This information and feedback can also  be used to identify areas of improvement and opportunities to enhance the Program from both the Schools/Districts and Industry’s perspective.   The information should be cataloged and maintained to document the completion and compliance of the Externship  program.  The tool can be shared with other campuses to establish a consistent district-wide tool used to evaluate the program at the District/Program level.  Any improvement to this Externship process will directly benefit the STEM Education Program.

Teacher Externship Program Post-Survey Form

Reflection form for teacher after completion of externship

This resource developed by Judson ISD is a survey to be completed by the Extern participant at the completion of the Externship. 

How could I use this resource?

1. The survey should be administered immediately after the completion of the Externship. 
2. Data collected should be summarized and analyzed
3. The survey data should be used to provide feedback to all stakeholders.
4. The survey questionnaire should also be periodically reviewed with the goals in alignment with the survey’s purpose and the related benchmarks.ermine areas that need improvement and successes.
6. Challenge teachers to complete another PBL lesson..

Why is this resource useful?

A survey is an excellent tool to collect feedback from a primary stakeholder.   This information and feedback should be used to identify areas of improvement and opportunities to enhance the Program from both the Schools/Districts and Industry’s perspective.   The tool should be shared with other campuses to establish a district-wide survey which increases the participant population and yields more reliable and actionable data.  Any improvement to this Externship process will directly benefit the STEM Education Program.