Some teachers look forward to summer so they can re-energize to meet the demands of the next school year that comes all too quickly.
A few others, however, change things up by spending time working at a local business, learning what Connecticut companies are manufacturing and bringing that experience back to their classrooms.
This summer, six Hartford-area teachers worked at companies such as Trumpf, Inc., Mallory Industries, Stanadyne, US Hybrid Corporation, and the International Transfer Station.
These summer jobs for teachers: called externships: were no accident.
Over the past 10 years, the Connecticut Business & Industry Association (CBIA) has administered over 140 externships on behalf of the Connecticut College of Technology's Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing (COT-RCNGM).
"Externships are highly effective in solving the tough challenge of trying to bridge the gap between what students are taught in the classroom and what today's employers actually need," said Dr. Karen Wosczyna-Birch, executive director of COT-RCNGM.
"Everybody involved benefits from externships," said Judy Resnick, executive director of CBIA's Education Foundation.
"Employers gain from teachers' experience, teachers learn the latest technologies and work expectations in an environment they may never have experienced before, and students are given more practical and relevant instruction."
As part of these externships, teachers are required to develop a work-based learning project for their students, based on the teacher's externship experience.
Fred Hernandez, a manufacturing teacher at E.C. Goodwin Tech (New Britain), says his summer experience at Trumpf, Inc. in Farmington will help him better instruct his students on how to use a Coordinate Measuring Machine or CMM.
"We just received a new CMM in my classroom, so my experience at Trumpf will help me teach students how to operate and inspect this machine," he says.
Working at a start-up fuel cell company, Weaver High School (Hartford) physics teacher Greg Miska analyzed and made recommendations for designs and materials used by US Hybrid Corporation in South Windsor.
"I'm going to be teaching a section on fuel cell technology this fall, and knew very little about it, " says Miska.
"Working at US Hybrid, I gained a much greater understanding of what the technology is and how it works, so I'm excited about bringing this knowledge to my students."
Justin Schumacher, a relatively new technology education teacher who will be teaching at Avon High School in the fall, said he had no previous experience in manufacturing.
His experience at Mallory Industries in Farmington gave him a much greater understanding of today's manufacturing technologies, practices and expectations.
"My experience this summer was a valuable learning experience," said Schumacher.
"The knowledge that I took away from this opportunity will make me a better educator. I was able to observe and participate in numerous facets of the manufacturing process in a state-of-the-art aerospace manufacturing facility."
"By doing this externship, I was able to bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and real-life application."
His supervisor at Mallory, Paul Murphy, enthusiastically embraced the program, saying it was a wonderful opportunity for manufacturers to get to know teachers and their world. Murphy said it was also a great way for the industry to have a voice as to what they need from a potential employee.
If you're a teacher or a company that wants to participate in next summer's externship program, please contact Mary deManbey at 860-244-1975 or email@example.com.
CBIA is Connecticut's largest business organization, with 10,000 member companies. For more information, please contact Meaghan MacDonald (860.244.1957; firstname.lastname@example.org) or visit the CBIA Newsroom.