St. Philip High School’s senior internship is a rite of passage, the capstone of BCACS’ Crayons to College and Career program. This year, teacher Debbie Evans transformed this rite of passage into a bridge to the future.

“My number one goal was to build capacity in these students,” said Ms. Evans, a shared-time teacher with the Math and Science Center. “I come from the college level and I see the number one thing students struggle with is not college, it’s self-advocacy – having enough capacity to know they can open doors on their own. I wanted them to have a success story out of this.”

Ms. Evans used her background in professional development to turn the internship class into a project-based learning experience.

Each student had to find, design, complete and evaluate their own internship. Ms. Evans’ role was one of empowerment.

“The students were in the driver’s seat and that was very intentional,” Ms. Evans said. “I was really just a powerful cheerleader.

Ms. Evans helped students examine their aspirations, current skill sets, and personal strengths. Using these results, students determined their “skill gaps” and what type of internships would close these gaps.

Students created electronic portfolios and researched potential employers. Ms. Evans taught them strategies to get past an organization’s gatekeeper. She conducted mock interviews with students, so they could up the odds of being hired.

When the students were ready, they called these businesses themselves.

Ms. Evans coached them through setbacks and pushbacks but didn’t directly interfere or intervene. Along the way, some students, parents and even staff members voiced concerns, but Ms. Evans was staunch about everyone “trusting the process”.

The process worked. Every single student found their own internship.

As their field work progresses, students continually evaluate the goals they co-created with their employers. Evidence matters, as does the results.

“I thought that I would just do a lot of observing and maybe taking notes, but after the first week, I was given a dog to work with to learn firsthand, which I think tremendously affected how much I’ve learned,” said McKenna Haley, who is serving her internship at DogZone.

McKenna Haley found her internship at DogZone, where she is gaining experience working with animals. She plans to study Animal Behavioral Science in college and hopes to train service animals in the future.

“Sometimes, during a meeting or something, I’ll catch myself falling in love with the job a little bit,” said Meagan Casterline, whose internship with event planner Jennifer Darling may include a trip to New York City. “I love how this internship is coaching my brain to think like an event planner would.”

Meagan Casterline [front, right] with Jennifer Darling [front, left] and the members of the Deep Fried Pickle Project [back row], during a concert Megan helped Ms. Darling organize as part of her internship.

The most important result for Ms. Evans is self-reliance.

“What has been most empowering is watching the students physically and mentally shift because they realized they made this happen,” Ms. Evans said. “This isn’t something someone did for them. This is something they intentionally created.”

Our seniors are doing amazing things, which is why, starting this week, our BCACS Blog will host a “Senior Spotlight”. Every Thursday until graduation, we will highlight different members of the Class of 2017. Read more about their internships, their aspirations, and where they plan to “grow” after graduation.

Senior Spotlight: Meagan Casterline, McKenna Haley, & Kailee Redmond
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Questions? Call Cathy Erskine at 269.963.1131