Innovation: Education

Welcome to your in-school internship

What work looks like at St. Albans City School

a model for service learningStudents at St Albans City School, in St. Albans VT,  have the ability to apply for in-school intern positions such as Financial Officer, Chief Executive Officer, Director of Communication and a whole lot more. What would it look like if your students could do an internship right there in school?

Here’s what it would look like.

What’s an in-school internship?

In St. Albans City’s version of service learning, internships follow a process similar to internships out in the quote-unquote adult world: students summit a letter of intent and an application, and identify their particular strengths and goals.

Then if a good match is found, students schedule an in-person interview with the community teacher. The two work through what the position could offer the student, and what the student could offer the position.

As part of working the internship, students reflect on their internship as part of their PLPs.

If offered the position students get to sign a contract, complete with a detailed job description. Like these:

A sample contract for an internship at St. Albans City School. Click to enlarge.
A sample contract for an internship at St. Albans City School. Click to enlarge.

Internship Supervisors (teachers) then work with the student and their teachers to design a work schedule that honors other in-school activities. Like classes, for instance.

And if an internship position doesn’t exist, then they find a way to create one for the student’s interests.

That’s right: it’s about personalization.

Internship case study #1: Cup Flipper

At St. Albans City School, environmental consciousness is alive and well. One of the many student groups in the school is the Stewardship Committee. This committee noticed that many adults drink coffee as part of their morning school routine, what with coffee being a magical elixir necessary for many to “survive.”

However, many of these drinks were served in styrofoam cups.

The Stewardship students conducted a trash study and lo! Their concerns were confirmed. Styrofoam made up a significant portion of their school’s landfill waste.

So what’s most impressive here is the Saint Albans City School system is structured to support students when they identify a need and want to take action. Hellooooooo, Flexible Pathways!

St. Albans City internships
St. Albans City student-designed and produced coffee mugs are now available for purchase.

Students identified a problem, collaboratively proposed a solution, made the design in the maker space. Art/STEAM teacher Megan Martinson worked with the students to co-create internships that honored their interest, and made space in the school schedule for them to pursue creating reusable, personalized coffee cups for educators.

Internship case study #2: HOPE

The H.O.P.E (Hands On Practical Education) program is part of the behavioral support system at St. Albans City. Led by Mark Hoben and Dan Deslauriers, the program hosts six of the approximately 20 interns in the school.

Interns and other students work on making things to meet specific needs of the school and community. For instance, they made a podium, raised dog bowls and laser-engraved cutting boards. They made free-standing wooden signs to direct traffic in school hallways.

They made a “friend bench” at the request of one of the school’s kindergarteners:

St. Albans City School internships

St. Albans City has a functional sugaring operation on-campus, and the sugaring team approached HOPE to ask about a “sugaring sled”, to carry buckets of sap from trees to shed.

And of note, many of the projects involve up-cycled or repurposed materials. Old shelving, headed for the dump? BOOM: meet your new friend bench. Out-dated furniture? SHAZAM: it’s been reworked into that classroom sign.

And how do internships work at HOPE?

The HOPE Program currently has six of the school’s 20 interns. One such internship is the Director of Communications. This student’s job is to share and publish the stories from HOPE in and around the school as well as in the local paper.

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Another HOPE intern, the Chief Financial Officer, is responsible for managing the account HOPE maintains with the school. They help budget projects and make sure everything is on the up and up.

HOPE provides these internship positions in more general areas, such as communications and finance, so that students can opt-in to boost skills associated with those areas in furthering school service projects. Awesome!

What does evidence from an internship look like?

At St. Albans City School, students reflect on and record their authentic, relevant, and meaningful learning in their PLPs. It’s a condition of the internship contract, which Hoben describes as students’ on-going narrative. That’s right, it’s a reframing of the PLP to reflect that students’ lives and interests don’t stop once they leave school …or their internships.

What could in-school internships look like in your school?

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Scott Thompson

Educator, Student advocate, husband, father, adventurer, outdoor enthusiast, cook, traveler, and former North American Nerf Golf Champion.

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