Teachers learn work skills in intern program

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 24, 2001

VIDALIA, La. – In Ruthie Brown’s opinion, it is never too early to start learning the skills necessary to succeed in the world of work.

So Brown, in her 25th year of teaching kindergarten, is glad she participated in the Teachers in the Working World Educator Internship Program. The program, now in its fourth year, is sending 40 Concordia Parish teachers into local businesses for at least 12 hours this summer.

Teachers gain experience they can use to show their students how classroom skills are used in the workplace, said Dorothy Marsalis, career and technical/school-to-work coordinator at Vidalia High School.

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&uot;In kindergarten, for example, we learn telephone manners and being polite, and that’s a big part of running a business like this,&uot;&160;said Brown, who spent three days this week working at Vidalia Flowerland. &uot;If you’re not polite, a person will take their business somewhere else.&uot;

Today’s businesses demand skilled workers – but in order for students to learn the skills companies want, educators will have to modify the way they teach, said Marsalis, who coordinates the program.

&uot;They have to show how what they’re teaching is relevant to the world of work and change their curriculum to include those skills,&uot; Marsalis said. &uot;For example, if you want a job with the post office, you’ll have to have good memory skills.&uot;

Once they complete their 12 hours of outside work, teachers will have to submit to Marsalis lesson plans centered around the skills they observed.

Teachers will also meet in the fall to discuss what they learned, and Marsalis will visit classrooms to see how work skills are taught.

Brown said she is glad her husband, Vidalia High Principal Rick Brown, encouraged her to sign up for the program – and not just because it will enhance the lessons she teaches her students.

&uot;I really enjoyed it,&uot;&160;said Brown, who did everything from arranging and delivering flowers to answering telephones in her three days at the shop. &uot;It made me more aware of what it takes to succeed in the workplace, and how busy it all is.

&uot;It was a rewarding and refreshing experience for me,&uot;&160;she said.

The internships are being funded by the Riverlands Tech Prep Consortium, coordinated by Cheryl Probst and the Central Louisiana School-to-Work Alliance.