Guest Blog: Jeffrey Mueller, Teacher Externship Participant 2020

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.

JEFFREY MUELLER: Participant in the Maryland Chamber Foundation Externship Program 

Baltimore County High School Teacher Hones In On the Importance of Vocational Training Programs During Externship With Stanley, Black & Decker. 

Last July, Jeffrey Mueller, a teacher of Foundations of Engineering and Advanced Design Application at Catonsville High School in Baltimore County got a welcome surprise when he learned that he was one of four outstanding Maryland high school Career and Technical Education (CTE) and STEAM instructors that were chosen to be part of the Maryland Chamber Foundation’s second Teacher Externship Program.

The Foundation’s Externship program is an immersive four-week experience, pairing talented area public high school teachers of science, technology, engineering, the arts, math, and CTE with partners from some of the region’s most prominent businesses.

Mueller discovered his month-long externship would be at Stanley Black & Decker (SB&D), the iconic tool and storage manufacturing company. Founded in 1843 and one of the most famous brands in the U.S., the company operates 48 manufacturing facilities across the country, and has a wide footprint in Maryland; SB&D inhabits an 84-thousand square foot manufacturing facility in Hampstead as well as corporate offices in Towson and White Marsh. Taking the three locations together, the company has over 2,400 Maryland employees.

Stanley Black & Decker describes itself in the following way: ”For the builders and protectors, for the makers and explorers, for those shaping and reshaping our world through hard work and inspiration, Stanley Black & Decker provides the tools and innovative solutions you can trust to get the job done—and we have since 1843.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mueller’s externship was carried out remotely. However, this did not hinder Stanley Black & Decker from providing a first-rate externship experience. “My two main contacts, Nidia Valenzuela and Matthew Hernandez created incredible opportunities for me day in and day out,” stated Mueller. “I was able to speak with over 45 company leaders and got the chance to explore their many departments, from logistics to global tools, and at many different levels of the organization. No, I didn’t have the hands-on experience, but it was instructive and satisfying to be able to talk in-depth to the people who do.”

From Nidia Valenzuela, the company’s Human Resource Director and head of Global Trade Services, Mueller also learned about SLP, the Stanley Leadership Program, and the ERGs, Employee Resources Groups. He quickly discovered in his first week that Stanley Black & Decker employees “spoke with one voice” and that it’s ingrained into their culture and language.

“This experience gave me a different perspective on what’s happening in this business. The people I spoke with were so informative and accommodating. Each had a different approach to their work, and that picture of a wide variety of opportunities within the company was something I could take back to my students.”

 -Jeffrey Mueller

Mueller related that his experience with Stanley Black & Decker provided him with detailed information about several key areas within the company of special interest to his Engineering and Advanced Design Application students, including the Control Tower, where they track the transportation of SB&D goods, Logistics, Robotics & Automations, and Design.

Turning the tables, Stanley Black & Decker leaders asked Mueller a lot of questions about what he was doing in the classroom. “They were intrigued by what I had to say about my students and courses,” related Mueller. “And they asked me a lot of questions about my day-to-day schedule. They were curious as to what challenges there were, and what successes I have had. Many said they would like to visit my classroom and speak to the students. I think my class would be very excited to hear from them, especially from the Stanley Black & Decker Robotics and Automation teams. And Ms. Valenzuela too said she would be happy to visit my classroom and speak on the subject of diversity. That could be very helpful to them as they prepare for the job world ahead.”

“Having these industry visitors,” he continued, “will also give my students a chance to hear about real-world job opportunities if they decide not to go to college. It will open their eyes as to what’s going on in manufacturing.  Also, because Stanley Black & Decker is always looking to expand its employment pool, this outreach to students could increase the number of potential employees. It could be a win for both students and Stanley Black & Decker and can be an important step in bridging the divide between business and education.”

Mueller said his experience left him thinking about a very important topic he would like to share with the education system – “Why don’t we focus more on vocational training programs in our schools. My externship at Stanley Black & Decker taught me so much about the need for employees at every level of the industry. I will share this message with my students.”

 To learn more about the Teacher Externship Program, please visit For more information on sponsoring and hosting a teacher externship, contact Whitney Harmel at the Maryland Chamber Foundation at or call 410-269-0642, ext. 1117. 

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