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As the Greater Ozarks Centers for Advanced Professional Studies (GO CAPS) program prepares to enter its fifth year, the program continues to grow. About 325 students will participate in the program this year from 22 school districts across the area.
But one issue remains with the program: how to reach more students about all the variety of career options available to them. After all, there are only a limited number of spots available in the program each year and not every student has the availability to be gone a half-day to participate in the GO CAPS model.
That’s where the GO CAPS teacher externship comes in. Each summer, teachers from around the region spend a week meeting with professionals from a wide range of businesses to learn about the opportunities available for their own students. Thanks to financial support from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education through a Missouri Career Pathways Grant, teachers who participate are paid a stipend for their time.
Teachers are paired with companies based on the content they teach, and business hosts create schedules that allow the teachers to better understand their industry. They then take that information back to their own classrooms and reach a far wider student audience because of their personal connection to the business community.
Two groups of teachers are participating this summer. The first group of 24 teachers completed their externship June 24-27, shadowing more than a dozen area businesses. Here is just a sample of what they learned during their week “in the field.”
On the ability to work your way up in the world:
"We met with a gentleman at SMC Packaging who used to push a broom, and now he’s working in sales. He was all about his company, and so was everyone else. It was amazing how you can come in on the ground floor and one day be running a division. It’s really inspiring."
"There’s no shame in an entry-level position … and if you work your way up from the bottom, you can make your way to the same place professionally – it just takes more effort."
On how to market college to students:
"I think for all of us, it would be easy to go back to our students and say, based on this experience, that college isn’t important. But that’s not the right message either. College isn’t a waste; it’s just about the cost, and so many of these companies offer reimbursement for employees."
On the willingness to try something new:
"Be willing to own your own mistakes – I heard that a lot. That’s something we talk about a lot in education."
"Don’t be scared of failure. You’re probably not trying things outside of your comfort zone and won’t learn anything new if you don’t fail sometimes."
On the importance of company culture:
"I didn’t see one company that wasn’t interested in pushing up people. That’s really important; there’s nothing better than feeling valued as an employee."
"I saw how much all of these businesses were stakeholders in education as well. It’s just as important to them that we be successful, and that the students be successful."
The Teacher Externship program culminates in a project that requires teachers to work with their students and a business partner, to teach students about some of the skills they’ll need in the future workplace. To date, these teacher projects have impacted more than 2,900 students this year alone. This year’s cohort of teachers will share the results of their projects at the Winter Summit in February.
Special thanks to our 2019 externship sponsor organization, CoxHealth!