Blog post by Whitney Harmel
Whitney Harmel is the Vice President of Membership and Development at the Maryland Chamber of Commerce. She has over a decade and a half of sales, leadership, and relationship-building experience and proudly serves on the board of two non-profit organizations in Maryland.
Carolyn Lane, Math Teacher at Rockville High School, Montgomery County, MD., is Helping Build a Bridge between the Business and Teaching Worlds
When Rockville High School math teacher, Carolyn Lane, was honored at the August 28th ceremony at the first-ever graduating class of Leidos’ CyberEDGE program, it was in recognition of her accomplishments during her month-long participation in the Maryland Chamber Foundation Teacher Externship Program.
Lane was one of four Maryland high school Career and Technical Education (CTE) and STEAM instructors chosen to be part of the second Teacher Externship Program in July. The program is an immersive four-week experience, pairing talented area high school teachers of science, technology, engineering, the arts, math, and CTE with partners from some of the region’s most prominent businesses.
While Leidos and other host companies benefit from the Maryland Chamber Foundation’s Teacher Externship Program, the selected teachers and their students prosper greatly from these newly formed partnerships.
Lane was paired with Leidos, a recognized corporate leader in cybersecurity across the federal government and internationally. One of those who oversaw Lane’s externship was James “Slim” Beamon, Dean of CyberEDGE Academy. “Colonel Beamon wanted to make it the best possible experience for me,“ said Lane. “He worked hard to set up the time for me to speak with senior leaders and program managers, including Human Resources head Katie Dexter. They helped me to communicate ‘virtually’ with employees all across the country and I was so pleased that several company leaders offered to support and speak with my students in the future.”
The first CyberEDGE Academy graduation on August 28 featured fourteen Cyber Defense Analysts who had gone through a 250-hour, 6-month program. Said Lane, “I was tasked with helping Leidos focus on two key areas of the program: What worked well, and if not, what could they do to change it. I was also fortunate to speak with many leaders at Leidos and we spent time discussing what they are looking for in future employees. This is key information I can carry back to my students. They will learn that Leidos is full of great people to work with and that there are opportunities to grow within. You can go far if you have the drive.”
Although her externship with Leidos had to be carried out virtually because of COVID-19, Lane found that it had an upside. “It was a good experience working virtually. Someday, you might have a job where you are not working directly with others. This shows that it is possible to communicate in several different ways and do it well.”
Lane returns to her virtual classroom at Rockville High School with a long agenda of items to discuss with her diverse group of students. During her time at Leidos, Lane was given the opportunity to learn about their Employee Resource Groups including The Women’s Network, and All-In, Leidos’ African American Leadership Network. “Leidos has many ways to connect with its employees. I think my students will appreciate that about the company.”
Another thing that Lane plans to share with her students is what kind of employee Leidos is looking for. “It is not just about having a college degree. I met a lot of people there with just a high school degree. They came to Leidos where they found growth opportunities. That was very encouraging for a teacher. It’s good for students at all levels of learning to see that if they have to go to work after high school, they don’t have to go to college right away. They may want to go right into the workforce. I can bring this message to my classroom.”
Lane also plans to share four lesson plans with her classroom including team building; communication as the key in every job; using math as a tool in open-ended problem solving; and marketing oneself to grow within a company.
“No experience is too small or insignificant. When you graduate from high school after being in my math classes,” Lane explained, “you may not need the quadratic formula, per se. But it is taking something you’ve learned and then learning to apply it to a real-world problem or slightly different circumstances. Most important is that even when you get frustrated, keep trying things and move through the problem. That’s one of the things I want to focus on in class this year.”
Summing up her extern experience at Leidos, Lane said, “I got so much out of those four weeks. I would highly recommend it to other teachers. Networking with company leaders was especially valuable. I was able to begin building future relationships with the Leidos team, and that could include bringing my connections into my classroom to talk to my students. Many of those I met at Leidos said they were looking forward to that. The experience at Leidos gave me so much personally and also much more to bring to my students. I am so grateful!”
To learn more about the Teacher Externship Program, please visit https://mdchamber.org/teacher-externships. For more information on sponsoring and hosting a teacher externship, contact Whitney Harmel at the Maryland Chamber Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 410-269-0642, ext. 1117.