Teacher Externship Program Helps Teachers Enhance Their STEM Experience
This summer, OneNet offered externships to two teachers for the third year in a row. OneNet partners with the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) to provide hands-on learning experience to STEM teachers related to the subjects they teach.
Through this program, OSDE connects teachers with organizations where both will benefit the program. OSDE worked with OneNet to develop a job description and interviewed and selected the teachers for the program.
Both teachers met virtually with team members from OneNet’s various areas, including networking, infrastructure, systems, security and administration. They learned about OneNet’s services and what happens behind the scenes to deliver these services to schools.
Sabrina Beasley, a STEM and computer science teacher at Yukon Middle School, participated in the externship. Yukon is a middle school located near the Oklahoma City metro area and has an annual student population average of approximately 1,200-1,400.
Beasley teaches STEM electives in grades 7-8 at Yukon and found the externship very useful and an overall awesome experience.
The second teacher, Katelyn Weese, is in her fourth year of teaching at Sallisaw Middle School. Sallisaw is a rural community in eastern Oklahoma near the Ft. Smith, Arkansas, metro area. Weese teaches 8th grade mathematics.
Weese enjoyed learning about career-based leadership and how to create a STEM student portfolio for a chosen career. The OneNet externship was a great fit for Weese, since she focuses on STEM subjects and promotes STEM careers to her students.
“When I was in my freshman year of college, I got a part time job tutoring at the middle school and that is where I found my passion for sharing mathematics with students and helping them understand concepts in a way that made sense to them on an individual basis,” Weese said. “Every time I have the opportunity to learn something new, I jump right on it.”
Beasley expressed why she was interested in the OneNet externship.
“I am always looking for ways to add more real-life scenarios to my courses,” Beasley said. “I also look for ways to be more credible to my students.”
Beasley also has always been intrigued by STEM since graduating from college with an engineering degree. Beasley was surprised by what she learned about cybersecurity.
“Working in cybersecurity isn’t like in the movies! Surprise! There’s quite a bit of research involved, so I was excited to bring that back to my students,” she said.
Weese also found cybersecurity and the individual team members interesting.
“Not only were the staff members personable and able to provide a positive learning experience, but I left the externship feeling motivated and inspired with new concepts to share with my students,” Weese mentioned. “I am looking forward to incorporating concepts that are used at OneNet into my curriculum.”
“Talking with everyone about their different backgrounds, certifications, and degrees was very helpful for my career unit,” Beasley explained. “I would have liked more time with cybersecurity because they are great to talk with and I learned quite a bit.”
Throughout the experience, Beasley and Weese focused on STEM career paths. The information they learned at OneNet will help their roles as a STEM teacher.
“I definitely gained some cool points with this externship,” Beasley said. “I have already talked so much about the externship with my students!”
“They will see that network technicians are using the Pythagorean Theorem, surface area formulas, and other algorithms to complete their work,” Weese said. “I think that showing my students how people are using math in real life will add value to their mathematics education.”
Each one was excited to bring back the research to their students. Beasley was very excited about the technology and ideas OneNet provided to her. With this in mind, Beasley shared challenges with teaching students to prepare for a STEM career.
“Being able to provide first-hand, real-life experience or scenarios for projects and having the expertise needed to teach STEM, especially computer science,” she said.
Weese was introduced to some important opportunities that relate to what she teaches in her classroom and hopes the externship will offer these opportunities to more teachers in the future.
“I left the externship feeling motivated and inspired with new concepts to share with my students,” she said.
Both teachers would recommend the program to their colleagues.
“I would absolutely recommend this program to other teachers. It has been one of my favorite learning experiences I’ve had outside of college.” Weese said.
“I envision sitting in each of those employees’ chairs and getting to do some of the work they do every day,” Beasley agreed. “I hope more teachers get to visit OneNet and learn all about OneNet.”
OneNet’s leadership plans to continue this annual program to forge closer relationships with rural schools and teachers. Whether in-person or virtual, OneNet has found the experience beneficial to both the participants and OneNet’s team members.
“We appreciate the opportunity to have one-on-one interaction with teachers who are advancing STEM education and promoting STEM careers to Oklahoma students,” OneNet Executive Director Vonley Royal said. “We learn as much from them as they learn from us. The externship program is a win for everyone.”
Story by King Mason, Strategic Communications Intern, Fall 2021
Photos courtesy of Sabrina Beasley and Katelyn Weese
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