John Doornenbal, an industrial technology teacher at Sioux Center High School, is spending six weeks of his summer as a STEM Teacher Extern for Interstates, an electrical automation company in Sioux Center. As part of his externship experience, Doornenbal is learning about tasks in which each employee is involved and the skills needed to complete the task. This includes both technical skills such as welding, measuring, reading a plan, assembly, conduit bending and threading, as well as soft skills such as teamwork, communication, adaptability, attitude and self-motivation. Through his experience as a STEM Teacher Extern, Doornenbal will have gained firsthand experience and knowledge of local careers and will help bring curriculum learned in the classroom to life.
Despite the pandemic, forty-eight other Iowa teachers, almost two-thirds capacity, are safely participating in the STEM Teacher Externship Program this summer. Working side-by-side with knowledgeable and skilled industry professionals, teachers are placed in fields that apply to their interests and skills. These externships provide educators with exposure to answer questions about real-world application and prepare students for future career opportunities.
The externship experience helps form partnerships between local workplaces and teachers that can ultimately help enhance the community’s future workforce. Of workplace hosts surveyed in 2019, most valued outcomes included:
- Workplace relevance brought to schools
- Establishment of school-business partnerships
- Increased interest in future workforce
- Elevated awareness of their business in the community
Marc Benedict, TLC master teacher at Graettinger-Terril Community School District, is serving in an assistant coordinator role for the STEM Teacher Externships Program this summer. As a former Teacher Extern, Benedict understands the long-lasting impact this experience can have for educators, students, businesses and the local community.
"It has been exciting to be able to support a program that has not only helped me grow both personally and professionally, but helps develop the crucial relationships between businesses and teachers across the state," said Benedict.
To learn more about the STEM Teacher Externship Program, visit IowaSTEM.gov/externships.