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CESA 10 externship pilot program wraps up first year

posted: August 27. 2018 09:52a CST
by / Jenessa Freidhof, Regional Editor |

Businesses across Wisconsin are seeing an increasing number of jobs going unfilled due to shortages of skilled workers. The Cooperative Educational Service Agency 10 Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Teacher Externship program was designed to bridge the gap between skills-based and knowledge-based education, bringing to life career-based classroom curricula.

This year’s pilot program provided four area teachers the opportunity to work 30 hours in a participating business alongside industry peers. The goal is for participating middle or high school teachers to personally learn the skills necessary for success in these industries and relay that knowledge in their classrooms.

Greenwood technical education teacher Noah Werner worked at Mayville Engineering Co. as part of the externship program. Werner said he wanted to participate in order to get firsthand experience working in an industry setting.

“As a teacher, sometimes we can get caught up in ideas or ways of learning that are great for an education setting but do not directly relate to the world of industry. As a technology education teacher, it is important that my curriculum and class experience relates to what the industry needs,” Werner said. “Why teach something that doesn’t help students obtain jobs and become valuable employees? This experience allowed me to see what was important and assured me that what I am teaching helps these students after high school.”

During his externship experience, Werner learned about welding, engineering and the process behind creating one product. He said the biggest takeaway for him was how important basic skills like measurement and print reading are in the day to day operations, something he will put more emphasis on in his classroom going forward.

Werner said he hopes to add more real-world situations to his engineering and welding classes to give students the opportunity to problem solve and develop skills that will serve them in their post-high school careers.

Chippewa Falls agriscience instructor Jeanna Burgan participated in an externship at Kerry Ingredients in Owen. She said the externship allowed her to see the different expectations for a variety of jobs, something she can take back to her classroom. She also was able to apply her lab skills to assist with fat, salt, solid and pH testing on certain products, experience that will help with her food science class.

“My students will benefit because I can reinforce the 21st-century skills they need to have in order to be successful in any job,” Burgan said. “I have a copy of the math test given to all applicants. I want to use this to reinforce the point of why knowing basic problem-solving math is important.”

Glen Schraufnagel, CESA 10 career and technical education consultant, said the program was a success in its first year and there is already interest in future externships.

“It is vital that our education system partner with area business so that relevant connections between classroom content and students’ future career interests can be realized,” he said.

Other participating teachers included Kayleigh Vantassel of the Granton School District, who completed her externship in June at Wissota Tool, and Shauna Brion, a Mondovi math teacher who completed her externship at Plank Enterprises in mid-August. 

Submitted photo - Jeanna Burgan participated in CESA 10’s externship program in July. Burgan worked 30 hours at Kerry Ingredients in Owen learning about their different products and helping with some lab testing. She said the experience will help her better relay to her students what skills are necessary for industry jobs as she prepares them for future careers.
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