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School To Career lets teachers intern

HEBER — Teachers, those responsible for opening the world to their students, have a chance to experience a little more of that world for themselves under the School To Career teacher internship program.

School To Career, funded by a federal grant and operated through the Imperial County Regional Occupational Program, provides several services mainly to the Heber School District, Calexico and Aurora high schools, William Moreno Junior High and Mains Elementary. Aurora, Moreno and Mains are all in Calexico.

In the two years this STC program has operated, about 35 teachers have taken part in STC-sponsored teacher internships. Under the program, participating teachers spend 20 hours working with an organization or business of their choosing, learning and experiencing another profession. Usually done during breaks in the school year, teachers receive $300 from STC for their work.

"The purpose is to give teachers work experience outside the classroom," said STC Coordinator Deborah Harrold.

The teacher internships are similar to student internships, Harrold said. Just as students see how what they learn in school is used in the workplace, teachers can "take what they learn at their internships back to the classroom and incorporate it into the curriculum," Harrold said.

Heber School second-grade teacher Mike Arzaga chose to do an internship with Imperial Irrigation District hydrographer Kyle Bryant. The choice seemed a good one, partly because Arzaga was interested in Bryant's job and also because Heber's second-grade curriculum includes lessons on the water cycle.

After his first eight-hour shift Saturday, Arzaga already recognized several skills Bryant needs on the job that he can teach his students.

Bryant works on the All-American Canal, controlling the amount of water being diverted into lateral canals. Though he spends much of his shift alone, Arzaga said he noticed how much teamwork Bryant and his co-workers use when Bryant runs into zanjeros in the field and during his frequent calls to the water division's headquarters.

"To be a good employee, you have to have good teamwork," Arzaga said.

Also integral is responsibility, Arzaga said. If Bryant were to get off task, too much water could be released or a farmer might not receive his water at the right time.

Arzaga watched Bryant use critical thinking and math skills to effectively perform his duties.

Though the world of a hydrographer is far removed from that of your average 7-year-old, lessons of teamwork, responsibility and critical thinking can be taught to second-graders now to prepare them for work later, Arzaga said.

Participating teachers have interned in places ranging from the El Centro water and sewer plant to the Calexico Chamber of Commerce. No matter where they go, the experiences always leave an impression.

"Work experiences are really, really powerful," Harrold said.

>> Staff Writer Kelly Grant can be reached at 337-3441.

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