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Giving educators the opportunity to go beyond the classroom

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Educators who participated in this summer's externship, from left to right: Marvin Croft, Taylor ISD; Amy Hefferman, Taylor ISD; Regina Reese, Round Rock ISD; Ruben Hidalgo, Del Valle ISD In July, Samsung Austin Semiconductor hosted four local teachers as part of the Workforce Solutions Capital Area and Workforce Solutions Rural Capital Area Educator Externship Program. The summer program allows companies such as ours to strengthen relationships with local school districts to connect with the next generation of skilled talent. We hosted two teachers from Taylor High School, one from Del Valle Independent School District and a counselor from Round Rock Independent School District Over the course of three busy days, the educators learned about our company, the manufacturing industry and career pathways available to their students. Jennifer Sabrsula in our Workforce Development team organized the agenda to include department rotations as well as campus tours and Q&A time with subject matter experts. Like any learning environment, being able to see firsthand the work being done provides a better perspective than the classroom can. For Stony Point High School counselor, Regina Reese, this was her first time participating in an externship program. She says the experience of smocking up and going into the cleanroom as well as being able to talk to hiring managers was invaluable. "When I do guidance and career lessons with kids, I am more knowledgeable about what Samsung can offer and I can relay that to the children on what they can expect looking forward to coming," Reese said. "Instead of us just sitting there and watching it on a video, we were able to gain valuable experience by actually going through the fab, looking at the equipment and seeing how things run." Amy Hefferman teaches engineering and robotics as a Science and Career and Technical Education (CTE) at Taylor High School. “The most valuable thing for me to bring back is the knowledge that I can give to the students to help them understand what kinds of roles are available, how they might fit in here and that there are opportunities even if you don’t have a college degree yet," explained Hefferman. Her colleague, Marvin Croft, teaches welding at Taylor High School but understands not every student that comes through his door will be a welder so he has to be able to give them guidance on what career options are available. "This is just another way I can help talk to the students who are really good with their hands and mechanically inclined, who may not want to go to a four-year school or a technical school," Croft said. "The growth is fast-paced. If you have the willingness and desire, you can move up.” As the only counselor in the group this year, Reese urges other counselors to consider applying for the program next summer. "I think if they came and did a hands-on program, they would be more knowledgeable because you can’t talk about something you don’t know about," Reese said "It’s another tool in your tool belt to help your kids be a success." According to Workforce Solutions Capital Area, 100 teachers and counselors across Austin/Travis County are participating in the three-day paid externships with local businesses this summer.