PLYMOUTH - Students at Terryville High School are getting more opportunities than ever to get a taste of working life both inside the school and outside in the community.
Chris Perkins, THS School to Career Center coordinator, talked about the program at a recent Board of Education meeting and had some of the interns discuss their experiences.
Feedback from the students is just as important as the feedback from participating school staff and the business community, he said.
Last year there was a pilot program placing a few interns with the Social Studies Department and this year it has expanded to other departments, he said. “Eventually all departments, in all the schools, will have the opportunity to have an internal intern placed there for several days a week.”
“Currently we have 28 interns. We have 17 placed across eight departments and we’ve picked up 11 more applications from students. The goal is to have them placed by November 30 in various departments and positions, learning in a hands-on opportunity alongside our staff,” he explained.
Once a month all the interns come back to the School to Career conference room to discuss their experiences and how to act and dress professionally in the workplace, he noted. “You can probably identify the student interns as you walk through the hall, because they’re the ones who are dressed a little bit nicer every day.”
Diana Ieronimo, a junior, has interned with School to Career, which she said has helped her present herself more professionally. “So far it’s been going really well, and I’m excited to see how it’s going to be for the rest of the year,” she said.
Trey Belanger, a senior who interns with the Math Department, said he mostly works with department head, Joe Faitak, and his AP Statistics class.
“It’s a class that I just finished last year, so it’s nice to be able to help those students who are currently in the class, and some of them who are in my grade and who I know personally,” he said.
Belanger said he also helps other teachers, doing tasks for them like making copies or running errands, to free up their time to plan their lessons.
Karrie Leduc, a junior, is also interning with School to Career.
“I primarily work on the binder project, which, and I quote from Perkins himself, if we were to drop dead tomorrow everything he has done up to this point is in those binders and someone would be able to come in the next day and pick up right where he left off,” she said.
She said she is also working to organize students from the Drama Club to help the tech students with broadcasting the Board of Education meetings, “and anything else they need help with.”
Amy Ieronimo, a senior, is an intern with the Science Department, specifically department head Anita Bergoderi.
“I want to be a high school biology teacher so it’s perfect to be set up with her because that’s what she does,” Ieronimo said. “I correct papers, which isn’t that exciting, but that comes with the job so I’m getting used to that. I break down and set up labs, so it teaches me organization. I clean up after the labs, organize stuff in her room.”
“She actually gave me the opportunity to create my own lesson plan and teach one of the classes about microscopes, so that was also really cool and really fun. It gave me a real life experience to what I can expect for when I eventually get a job,” Ieronimo added.
Keri Genest said she started off interning with the Plymouth Local Prevention Council when Perkins headed that, and switched over to School to Career last year when he took over there. “I’ve learned so much from the internship and how business works,” she said.
Perkins said the external internships are part of the Unpaid Experiential Learning Program, through the Connecticut State Department of Education and Department of Labor, which allows students age 16 or older in an unpaid working environment outside school, for up to 120 hours, at a fulltime business or nonprofit.
Currently there two THS students posted at Bristol Hospital. One of them, Dominique Picard, explained how she started by working in the post op, and then recently switched to the emergency department.
“If I hadn’t done this I probably wouldn’t have known that I wanted to be a nurse,” she said. “Now I just need to figure out where I want to be when I do become a nurse.”
Perkins said the two students will be at Bristol Hospital until January, when they will be replaced by two new students for the spring semester.
The internship program will expand for both internal and external placements in the near future, he said. “We’re moving forward to place interns in departments at the Board of Education, and at Eli Terry Jr. Middle School, Plymouth Center School, and Fisher Elementary school by the end of this spring.”
He said he is also in talks right now with three local businesses, including two in the town’s business park across the street from the high school, to accept interns.
The goal is to be able to offer 100 internal internships in any given semester, and to have up 10 percent of THS students be able to do an external internship, he said.
“The idea is to place them someplace related to a field they want to be in after their high school career,” he said.
Local businesses interested in providing an external internship can contact Perkins by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or email@example.com.