Strong relationships with local academy partners is the key to building effective business engagement in our high schools. The Academies of Nashville provide students with meaningful, hands-on learning in context through unique partnerships with local businesses, non-profit organizations, and government agencies. The Teacher Team Externship Program gives teachers an opportunity to have a real-world professional experience at a host organization to develop a project-based curriculum that gives students industry exposure and applied learning. Teachers from Maplewood High School had the opportunity to have an externship with their business partner, the Nashville Electric Service.
The PBL training was an excellent look at how project based learning can help our students. The first three days at the Martin Professional Development Center gave our group a solid base of knowledge about what PBL is supposed to be and was insightful in the explanation of how many projects are not PBL because they lack one of the 8 essential characteristics. Our experiences in the first three days prepared us to look for aspects in our project that we may have missed otherwise as we moved on to our externship.
Our partner (NES) was exceptional. They were patient and yet exposed us to many different areas of their operation. We learned the history of the organization and moved on to the specific equipment they use and maintain. We were introduced to new technology and how that was swiftly changing their operations and the types of skills that employees would need as they moved into new and challenging roles. We visited a number of work sites and saw the vast infrastructure that is used as well as the depth of the operation and its importance to the community. We saw the command center where power for the entire county can be controlled from a single room. The physics and chemistry of the equipment was explained, as was the civil engineering used to design the system and place specific poles to carry electricity to the community. It was an exciting externship that pushed our group mentally and physically.
We spent our final work day preparing for the renewable resource project we have chosen. Planning and scheduling were a priority. As we worked through a schedule we assigned roles to our academy teachers so that each could be as efficient as possible in teaching our students. We understand that there are time restrictions to the project and want to implement this project in the same vein as our externship. We hope it is an exhaustive and rewarding experience for our students because that is what we believe will benefit them most as they transition from school into a workplace like NES.