Role Reversal: Connecticut Teachers Become Students in Summer Externship Program

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Nine state high school and college educators have traded in pencils for laser engravers and fabrication tools working as interns (or ‘externs’) in advanced manufacturing facilities throughout the state.
In its 11th year, the teacher externship program immerses instructors in the latest industry practices and technologies so that in the fall, they can pass along new ideas and information to students.
The CBIA Education & Workforce Partnership (EWP) administers the program on behalf of the College of Technology’s Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing (COT-RGNGM), a National Science Foundation Center of Excellence.
“A recent Gallup poll highlighted the broken link between education and work, with 96% of chief academic officers believing their institution is effective at preparing students for the world of work and only 11% of business leaders agreeing that graduates have the skills their businesses need,” says Andrea Comer, executive director, EWP.
“By exposing educators to the workplace, teacher externships are utilizing an innovative approach to close that gap.”
Advanced manufacturing is the state’s greatest source of exports, a major producer of high-paying jobs, and a significant multiplier of economic activity across other sectors. Connecticut is home to over 4,000 manufacturers employing 162,800 people.
“This program gives teachers the tools they need to provide students the education and skills to successfully pursue careers in manufacturing,” says Dr. Karen Wosczyna-Birch, executive director of the COT-RCNGM.
Each teacher will spend 160 hours in a manufacturing facility before implementing a work-based learning project for their students based on the externship experience. Work-based projects give students a more realistic understanding of how classroom learning is applied on the job.
Educators participating in the externship program are:

  • Jim Cartier of Mystic, who teaches manufacturing at Ledyard High School, is working at Orion Manufacturing (Mystic);
  • Lisa Fitzsimmons of Old Saybrook, who teaches manufacturing at Middlesex Community College, is working at Deep River Plastics;
  • Dan Meyer of New Fairfield, who teaches technology at New Fairfield High School, is working at Consulting, Engineering, & Developing Services (Oxford);
  • Sterling Miller of Danbury, who teaches technology at Danbury High School, is working at Belimo AirControls (Oxford);
  • Eric Nelson of Cromwell, who teaches math at New Britain High School, is working at Polamer Precision (New Britain);
  • Chris Petersen of Mansfield, who teaches technology at Bacon Academy (Colchester), is working at F.B. Manion, Inc. (Columbia);
  • Mohammad Rahman of West Hartford, who teaches engineering at Central Connecticut State University (New Britain), is working at Mallory Industries (Farmington);
  • Neal Sherman of Willimantic, who teaches math and engineering at Windham High School, is working at Westminster Tool (Plainfield);
  • Todd Zagurski of Plainfield, who teaches woodworking and manufacturing at Norwich Free Academy, is working at Xuare (Norwich) and Collins & Jewell (Bozrah).

The teachers receive a $4,000 stipend to cover their time working at the host manufacturing companies and implementing work-based projects into their curricula. Applications for the program are due in March. For more program details, email Jennifer Duggan.

The CBIA Education & Workforce Partnership works with member businesses and other groups statewide to strengthen the talent pipeline and encourage economic growth in order to support the development of a skilled, knowledgeable workforce in Connecticut. For more information, please contact Meaghan MacDonald (860.244.1957).


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