Atlantis Internships Give Students Real-World Work Experience, Leading to Future Opportunities
“I would like to work in a school district as a pediatric occupational therapist and work with kids with special needs,” said Sarah Moniz, a senior in the Medical Academy.
Moniz will be attending Worcester State University this fall in the accelerated master’s program for occupational therapy. To help prepare for this next step, she interned in Ms. Patterson’s 2nd grade inclusion classroom, a general education classroom where students with and without learning differences learn together. Moniz worked with students on a variety of assignments, frequently helping with reading and math.
She was one of six Atlantis seniors selected to participate in the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s High School Senior Internship Education Project (HSSIEP) this spring. The State collaborates with regional MassHire Workforce Boards to provide work-based learning experiences in the field of education to highly motivated high school seniors. Students were asked to complete up to 100 hours of classroom time as part of the paid internship which was funded by a state grant through MassHire Bristol.
“This is the second year Atlantis students have participated in DESE’s HSSIEP,” said Career Academy Director Robert Perry. “By working with classroom teachers, students gain skills and knowledge needed to become an effective teacher. They also develop leadership skills that will help them through college and in their future career.”
Of the six student interns, three are in the Medical Academy and three are in the Teaching and Social Services Academy. All six expressed interest in working with youth in some capacity and all had previous experience working in a classroom, having taught financial literacy to Lower School students last year as part of Junior Achievement’s High School Heroes program.
“This has been an extremely rewarding experience,” Moniz said. “Every day was different, but each day I arrived to find a classroom of smiling faces. I also learned a lot from the teachers I worked with. It was obvious they love what they do. Some of the teachers were at the Lower School back in my elementary school days.”
DESE hopes the program will accelerate the growth of the teacher pipeline in Massachusetts. The State is working to increase interest in other careers as well. The Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services (DDS) has a similar paid internship program aimed at getting young people to pursue social service career pathways.
Senior Madisyn Sisson interned with People Incorporated as a direct care staffer through the DDS’s Urban Youth Collaborative Program (UYCP) which places high school and college interns in provider agencies, state-operated programs, and developmental centers across the state to support individuals with developmental disabilities as a paid intern.
Sisson is a senior in the Medical Academy. She interned after school for 12 to 15 hours a week at a home in Somerset for people with special needs. Under the supervision of People Incorporated employees, she assisted the residents with activities of daily living such as using the bathroom, showering, or doing the dishes.
“I arrived after school and usually started by putting on a load of laundry and helping prepare dinner,” Sisson explained. “It was a lot of running around, but the internship taught me a lot about responsibility, how to manage stress, and how to deal with different personalities. I loved it. I especially loved the ladies I cared for, they’re the sweetest.”
Sisson’s experience with People Inc led to a full-time job opportunity. She will continue to work there after graduation while attending CCRI’s (Community College of Rhode Island) ultrasound technician program.
Moniz will also continue working at Atlantis with Lower School students after graduation until the end of the school year.
“Our academies are strategically developed to connect students with real-world job opportunities,” said Robert Beatty, executive director at Atlantis Charter School. “But they do much more than that. They also spur economic development in the region by creating a pipeline of talent to fill 21st century jobs. This progressive learning model is now a hallmark of the high school experience at Atlantis. We’re proud to provide students with a path to career success.”