San Marcos Daily Record Publisher Dalton Sweat guides SMCISD instructional coach and extern Rebecca Jennings around the pressroom.
Photo by Don Moore
English teacher Dawn Houser labeling containers for SMCISD cafeterias during her externship at Resource Recovery.
High school criminal justice teacher John Roppolo’s externship is with the Hays County Judge’s Office. Pictured are Roppolo and Chief of Staff Alex Villalobos reviewing the Mental Health Needs Assessment created in partnership with the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute. The project is part of the stakeholder’s
mental health task force
to assess critical health needs for all citizens of Hays County to help change the paradigm of mental health response for Hays County. Crisis management and intervention is a part of the criminal justice curriculum at San Marcos High School.
Community program allows teachers to connect career shadowing to classrooms
This summer, a chosen group of San Marcos CISD secondary teachers were given the opportunity to venture outside the classroom, heading into the community as externs for many area businesses, agencies and organizations.
Called the Summer Teacher Externship Program, it is a joint effort by the school district, the San Marcos Chamber of Commerce and Texas Workforce Solutions.
The program is a dynamic collaborative experience that builds lasting community partnerships between San Marcos’ industry and education benefiting businesses, schools, and especially San Marcos’ future workforce - our students.
This program, which began in 2016, routinely empowers teachers from SMCISD’s Miller Middle School, Goodnight Middle School and San Marcos High School, the chance to immerse themselves in a local business for three full working days. These days provide teachers with a “real-world” experience that they may bring back to their students in the Fall.
This year, 27 SMCISD teachers are the cohort that were selected to shadow local business owners, government agency leaders and their employees and staff onsite. Over the three days, teachers are able to cultivate skills, tools and acquire a new knowledge base, all of which can be taught in a career-building moment when they return to classrooms.
Based on their worksite experience, each teacher is expected to write a lesson plan and incorporate it into their classroom instruction, linking their externship learning to student academic and career aspirations.
“This is a very valuable program for the chamber to work on each summer with our local teachers and Workforce Solutions. It generates a long-term positive impact for local businesses that will ultimately employ the SMCISD students who benefit from the teachers’ externship experiences,” San Marcos Chamber President/CEO Page Michel said.
When asked to share her experiences with the program, Dawn Houser, an English teacher at the high school had some key observations.
“As an urban gardener, I recycle and compost fervently at home. When I was matched with Amy Thomaides at Resource Recovery in the city of San Marcos, I knew that it would be a great experience,” Houser said. “Her projects are innovative and she recently won a grant for bringing composting to all SMCISD campuses. I was able to create a website, brochure, and a social media post for the district. Thank you, Amy, for pushing this city to be the best it can be.”
Jade Cuellar, a San Marcos High School fashion design teacher said she is also gaining valuable experience from the program.
“I really enjoyed working for Hays County Outfitters. I teach fashion design so this pair-up was directly related to my class. I had the opportunity to work with the manager, Veronica, and learned so much from her alone. We worked on visual merchandising mostly, and day to day operations. Veronica shared with me all of current and past retail experience and she gave me a ton of awesome ideas to try in my class. I look forward to taking everything I learned from the externship and applying it to my future lessons in the classroom. Thank you Hays County Outfitters for a great first externship.”
It is estimated that for every teacher who participates, approximately 200 students are impacted with regard to future career planning. In the years since it started, over 140 teachers have taken part in the summer program.
To participate in the externship, teachers simply fill out an application and indicate what type of business they would prefer to work with during their externship. Teachers are paired, based on their interests, with participating business partners. The teachers are then required to work three 6-hour days at their jobsite, create a lesson plan for use in the upcoming school year, and log a journal of their experiences to earn a $1,000 stipend at the completion of the externship.
Local businesses interested in participating in the summer program, should contact the San Marcos Chamber of Commerce at https:// www.sanmarcoschamber.com/ or call (512) 393-5900.