Connecting Classroom Content with Real-World Skills: CREEED’s Inaugural Educator Externship

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Through the visionary work of Nadia Tellez, CREEED’s Choose to Excel Director, in June 2023 CREEED launched our inaugural Educator Externship, matching six El Paso educators with local businesses.   Educators from Canutillo ISD, Clint ISD, and El Paso ISD took part, in collaboration with local businesses; El Paso Electric, First Light Federal Credit Union, GECU, Hunt Companies, HUB International, and The Hospitals of Providence.  As part of CREEED’s efforts to increase educator development, the Educator Externship was created to empower educators with firsthand industry exposure, ultimately enhancing the quality of education and preparing students for post-secondary success.

Participating teachers spent a paid week during their summer break working alongside business professionals, gaining practical knowledge and industry insights that can be integrated into their teaching practices. This unique opportunity enabled educators to witness firsthand how academic concepts are applied in real-world scenarios, fostering a deep understanding of industry demands and trends. When asked about his favorite part of the extern experience was, Mr. David Esquivel, Math teacher at Northwest Early College, replied, “Getting to ask professionals what skills our students need to work on and what career fields we need to encourage.  Seeing it in real time was a real eye-opener”. 


Benefits for Educators

Participating in this first-of-its-kind regional Educator Externship provides a lasting impact on our teachers. Not only does this externship provide knowledge that reflects 21st century industry advancements, but educators gain an up-to-date understanding of emerging technologies and best practices by experiencing their subject-matter in a workplace environment. Ms. Rebecca Manriquez, a medical Career and Technical Education teacher explained of her time at The Hospitals of Providence, “There were many skills that I teach that need to be updated or implemented”. Exposing educators to real-world business needs enables them to add a deeper sense of relevance to the lessons they teach starting next fall.

This type of professional development can also provide additional opportunities for connections between businesses and our local schools. Collaborative projects, guest speakers, or even internships for students–our educators are already tapping into the expertise of industry mentors.  Plans are already in the works to have hospital volunteers be trained by Ms. Manriquez’s career and technical education medical students.

Benefits for Businesses

The inaugural local businesses played a pivotal role in the success of CREEED’s Educator Externship program. By opening their doors to local educators, they started on a path towards a mutually beneficial partnership. Elsa Borrego, Sr. Vice President of Human Resources for GECU saw the externship as a win-win, “We learned a lot from Rosalia as well. We hope we were able to provide insights to help improve her curriculum and that we will see an impact in our students.” The program also serves as a platform for businesses to showcase their industry, potentially attracting talented students to pursue careers within their organizations.

Impact on Students

While the educators and businesses that took part in this program learned a great deal from each other, El Paso area students are the ultimate recipients of its benefits. By incorporating real-world experiences, industry-relevant knowledge and often overlooked “soft skills” into their teaching, educators can better prepare students for the future careers that await them. 

The CREEED Educator Externship program provides hands-on professional development for teachers by empowering them with industry insights, enhancing their professional growth, strengthening the collaboration between education and industry, and, ultimately, preparing students for the demands of the modern workforce.  As this program continues to evolve and expand, we can expect to witness a positive transformation in education in our region, equipping students with the skills and knowledge needed to thrive in the 21st century.


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