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Educator Externship: COVID Version

Our Educator Externship Can’t Be Stopped!

As we all know, things change. This year the Educator Externship went partially virtual to stay within COVID guidelines, but participants were still able to see the variety of careers within the construction industry and supporting industries. Physical tours included visits to general contractors, apprenticeship training centers, building sites for new schools, a reclaimed quarry in SW Washington, and a rock crushing and asphalt plant. When they weren’t at a physical jobsite, educators connected virtually with company leaders, instructors, and workers to learn about many aspects of a “typical” day. We had over 70 teachers, counselors, and CTE coordinators participate across Oregon and SW Washington, which is about half of the number from last year. Several districts didn’t participate this year because of all the budgetary unknowns and restrictions on professional development. Thirty AGC members, non-members, and institutions participated to make a great experience for the educators. A huge thank to all for once again making this an informative and entertaining week-long experience.

Despite the unknowns and constantly changing meeting restrictions, those educators who did participate gave rave reviews of the new insight they acquired through the program. A highlight for the Washington educators was an up-close observation of a large excavator at work and the precision that the operator had controlling the various pieces of equipment (see photo). Another highlight was a virtual site visit walk through of a high rise apartment building under construction in NW Portland. Educators also learned about the support industries like accounting, marketing, IT, safety, and human resources that aren’t typically thought of when it comes to construction, but they are vital to the successful operations of a company.

All the teachers will be doing at least one lesson plan incorporating what they learned during the Externship. Since the participants come from a broad range, K–12 and several curricular areas, most of them had no idea what to expect from the program. Even the typical CTE instructors were surprised at the scope of what they saw during the shortened 2020 version of the program, including a visit for some to Advanced American Construction to learn about heavy marine construction and underwater welding. Science teachers were excited to learn about asphalt components and the environmental steps that paving companies take to protect natural resources; a Klamath County culinary arts teacher will be having students use tape measures to measure portion sizes! The exciting thing to participating companies and facilitators is that all the educators gained knowledge and a new appreciation of the opportunities for careers that pay well, and often don’t require a college education.

Here’s what educators are saying…

“Thank you (to John Hickey, Asphalt Pavers Association of Oregon) for taking the time to host our group. As a chemistry and environmental science teacher, your presentation was my favorite …I chose to develop a unit for my environmental science class based on your presentation. I loved how you integrated math into your presentation.” Shawn Stern, CTE director and teacher, Ilwaco High School

To O’Brien Construction: “ …what’s most impressive are the people that we met and the abundance of opportunities available for young people. I especially appreciated the encouragement of female employment in your industry…Too many are discouraged by the perception that the only avenue available to a prosperous life is college.” Steve Rice, Tigard High School

To O’Brien Construction: “I learned about how new technologies are being incorporated into the construction industry, (including) Lidar and drones being used to accurately map out jobsites… I will be able to better communicate what kinds of technologies are helpful for students to learn if they are interested in this work.” – Jordan Terriere-Dobrioglo, Newberg High School

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