Breaking down walls to create “light bulb” moments for my students
As a teacher, the most rewarding moments are when I see “light bulbs” go off for one of my students who begins thinking differently or feeling encouraged for the future. In my role teaching career and college development as well as personal finance and economic theory at Parkville High School in Baltimore County, I try to make a difference for the community and for future generations. With the courses I teach, my main goal is to help best guide students as they enter the world of college, careers and trade school.
However, over the years I have witnessed a wall within education that blocks teachers off from the true realities and demands of the current world of work, which is ever-changing. When I learned of the Maryland Chamber Foundation’s Teacher Externship Program, I was hopeful it would help me break down that wall and better serve my students. I wanted this externship to allow me to learn about the many growing career fields within the Baltimore County and Baltimore City communities.
My teacher externship at Hatzel & Buehler, Inc./Bluestone Communications was focused on learning the best practices and skills that students need in communication and electrical careers. I wanted to understand how students can enter this profession during senior year or after graduation, and how they can advance within the field of their choosing. Here is how I spent my time over the four-week externship:
One activity that stood out as the most insightful was visiting an electrical union headquarters in Baltimore and seeing the various classes/training modules for apprentices. It was eye opening to learn the skills and training that go into these careers and how I can guide graduating seniors into alternatives to college programs.
Although I know this experience was invaluable to me as I continue to guide Maryland’s future workforce, I believe it was equally important for my host company because they now have a connection for recruitment of future employees and a means of spreading brand recognition through future collaboration with schools. I hope my ongoing work and planning with Hatzel & Buehler/Bluestone Communications will start a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship with my school. They can share current practices and needs within the company while I provide outlets for properly preparing students and guiding them towards all the opportunities available to them.
As I reflect on my experience, I know that I now have a much better understanding of the technical skills and career pathways that are available to students as they graduate from high school. This externship has helped break down the wall and allow me to gain great insight into real world careers. This is a huge win for my students, their families and my community.
Patrick James Dougherty teaches Introduction to College and Career Development, Advanced College and Career Development and Personal Finances and Economic Theory at Parkville High School in Baltimore County.