BERLIN – An externship program is giving a local teacher career knowledge she can pass on to her students at Worcester Technical High School.
Mary Miller, a computer science teacher at Worcester Tech, is in the middle of a four-week business experience at Cards Technology. The program, offered through the Maryland Chamber Foundation, is giving her a chance to get a firsthand look at the type of job her computer science students might one day have.
“It’s such a great experience,” Miller said. “I knew going in I’d be able to learn but they’ve gone above and beyond.”
In mid-July, 25 Maryland teachers began a four- to six-week business experience at one of 13 host companies through the Maryland Chamber Foundation’s 2021 Teacher Externship Program. The program, which was started in 2019, is meant to provide educators with valuable technical and career pipeline knowledge they can pass on to their students.
Miller started with Cards Technology July 12 and concluded her externship Aug. 6. So far, she’s been able to shadow technicians, go through much of the training Cards would offer its new employees and see firsthand how an IT company functions.
“You get immersed in the company for four weeks,” she said.
Miller said it was Sam Card, founder of the company, who actually brought the externship program to her attention.
“He had a former student of mine in an internship,” Miller said. “He noticed there were some things that were missing.”
Card said he wanted to see high school graduates be able to come join the company.
“We did the program specifically because we wanted to set up a situation where Mary can educate the students better, or differently, so when they finish high school they can have some certification,” he said. “The goal is for Mary to write a lesson program for what kids would need to know coming out of school to get a job doing what we do.”
Card, who grew up here, wants local kids to be able to fill area IT positions.
“We’re hoping to be able to keep these kids here on Delmarva,” he said.
The Maryland Chamber of Commerce created the externship program to help bridge the gap between businesses and educators by pairing high school teachers with businesses that provide hands-on experience in industries related to the subjects they teach.
“It’s a good program from what we’ve seen so far,” Card said.
Participating teachers receive a stipend from the Maryland Chamber Foundation for their work, and gain experience and perspectives they can share with future students.
“The industry and technical knowledge teachers gain allow them to enhance their curriculum and educate their students on both the hard and soft skills required to enter the workforce and obtain a livable-wage career,” the chamber’s website reads. “Up from three participating teachers in 2020, the 25 teacher externs represent a 766% growth in the program in 2021.”