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EXCITE: EXploring Careers through Industry Teacher Externships

EXCITE: EXploring Careers through Industry Teacher Externships

19 teachers from Stillwater Area High School recently took part in an eye-opening experience through the EXCITE Teacher Externship program. This unique initiative provided interactive tours with 37 companies across diverse industries, including healthcare, manufacturing, law enforcement, banking, and trades. The program aimed to give teachers a firsthand understanding of employer practices, workforce needs, and potential partnerships to better prepare their students for future careers.

The event was organized by SAHS Career Pathways Coordinator Bob Manning along with other local educators. Manning emphasized the importance of the EXCITE program, saying teachers have a tremendous capacity to help students navigate their career journey.

“Teachers have relationships with hundreds of students and can identify opportunities that might suit individual students,” Manning said. “They have the ability to bring authentic learning experiences with professionals into their classrooms that will impact students long after they graduate.”

The participating organizations included Lakeview Hospital and EMS, Stillwater Public Works, Royal Credit Union, MN Department of Corrections, Presbyterian Homes and Services, and the Washington County Sheriff's Office. This broad range of industries exposed the teachers to a myriad of career pathways, leaving them with a more comprehensive understanding of the workforce landscape and the potential career choices available to their students.

French teacher Amy Budion appreciated the chance to step into the shoes of professionals from various fields, gaining a deeper appreciation for their daily work. 

“I drive by a lot of these places daily and never think about what the inner workings entail,” said Budion. “ It was wonderful to step into others’ roles to see the world from their perspective. We often think of work as doldrums of daily life, but when each worker would tell us about what they do and how they got into it, you could feel their passion.”

Budion said she was surprised to discover that many individuals she met had not followed a linear path to their current profession.

“A lot of people didn’t go into the field their degree was in,” said Budion” and I think we need to promote that more. Find what you love to do, get a foot in the door, and grow from there! 

Budion is eager to share her experience with students as well as fellow staff.

“I cannot wait to tell my students about this to help promote the Pathways program even more! ANY chance they get to visit a site is something they should immediately sign up for. I want other teachers to experience this as well,” said Budion. “This was the most relevant professional development I’ve done in a long time!”

Budion encouraged anyone in the community to take similar tours, “Just to see what’s out there and make connections with our community, whether they want to go into that field or not. There’s so much to learn around us, and when we see what others go through in their typical day, we would all be more kind, patient, and open-minded.”

As Stillwater schools continues to invest in these innovative programs, we pave the way for a brighter future, where students are inspired, well-prepared, and ready to make their mark on the world.

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