Teachers get summer ‘externships’ at Lynn firms

LYNN ? Imagine a high school chemistry teacher working as a chemist for the summer, then attending a graduate-level education class to learn how best to bring that new practical knowledge back to the classroom.That’s the model behind a new program overseen by the North Shore Workforce Investment Board (WIB) in partnership with Salem State College’s Graduate School of Education and several area businesses, including GE and Eastern Bank.WIB Executive Director Mary Sarris explained that the businesses involved will chose 12 teachers from the North Shore and Merrimack Valley to participate in the various paid work venues.”The teachers are paid about $800 a week, but they’ll be responsible for paying for the graduate course,” she said, noting the course costs about $700 and earns the student three academic credits toward a master’s degree or professional development points (PDPs) for post-graduate students.The so-called externships range in length from five to eight weeks. GE will offer 2-3 positions, while Eastern Bank, Electric Insurance, and Danvers-based Berry Construction Co. will provide one each.”This is a phenomenal opportunity for teachers. A chemistry teacher can actually become a chemist for the summer. A physics teacher can study aviation at GE and return to the students with a more practical view when explaining how airplanes fly,” Sarris said. “At the same time, this isn’t just a summer job. In addition, the teachers will enroll in the Graduate School of Education, taking what they learned on the job and infusing it into the curriculum at their respective schools.”The teachers will form a cohort at the graduate school and work together to create and implement the curriculum.”We have done externships before, but this is the first time we included the course, which takes the whole program to a more serious level,” Sarris said.Sixteen teachers have applied to date, but WIB is seeking at least 24 applications for the dozen slots. “It’s a competitive process and a bit of effort to fill it out the application, but the companies want to be sure they get teachers who are serious about coming to work for them for the summer and who will add value.”The program grew out of the present need for highly skilled workers in Massachusetts. “That is where our job growth is,” said Sarris. “When I was a kid, people insisted that math and science were the courses to study, and they were right. Kids today are still being encouraged to pursue a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) curriculum.”As a result, teachers of mathematics, science and computers or other advanced technologies are the most appropriate candidates for the externships.”This marks the second year for GE involvement in this project. It appears there could be two GE teacher externships this year, and we anticipate they will start on or around June 29,” said Richard Gorham, a GE spokesman in Lynn. “This stems from collaboration with a Salem State College teacher course focused on practical, real-world applications of math and science.”Gorham said GE in Lynn was the first company to participate in the program on the North Shore, noting that it adopts the STEM initiative to help further cultivate interest among students in science and math.”As a company that focuses very much on technology and innovation, GEAviation believes in helping highlight the importance of math andscience and in showcasing how these skills are put to use,” Gorham said. “Thisexternship program is another great way to bring this to light.”Teachers interested in the program should contact Shari Cornett at WIB for an application, (978) 741-3805 or email to

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