There comes a time in every student’s life when they realize that they’ve been in school for a longgg time. Last year, I started thinking ahead and I had the realization that I was about to enter my seventeenth consecutive year of school (*insert jaw drop), with no clear vision for what I wanted to do after graduation. As much as I’ve loved learning in the classroom, I decided that ultimately, it was time for me to try something new in order to figure out my future. And so, I decided to go part time for my senior spring and to enroll in an internship class to explore my options.
As a senior, going part time is an option that allows students to accept a part-time job or internship and ease their way into the workforce. This semester, I am only taking 6 credits, which is equivalent to two classes. My first course is my dance minor capstone course, for which I am choreographing a jazz dance for the Spring Dance Concert. My other class is my internship, which is the last requirement for my psychology major. For this course, students find their own internships and then they must work 12 hours a week in an unpaid internship, completing a culminating reflection activity. I reached out to the two school counselors at the local West Somerville Neighborhood School, and they took me on as their intern, allowing me to see if school counseling is the right fit for me, while getting credit!
The first day, I was pretty nervous. I entered the building feeling like a total intruder. Luckily, the school community welcomed me to “the West” right away, and every staff member was quick to tell me that if I needed anything, I should let them know. My supervisors, Catricia and Nikki, are both young, dynamic, and seriously good at what they do. For the last five internship days, they have had me observe a wide variety of school activities, from Student Support Team meetings, to high school transition lessons, to small group social skill building lessons, to lunch bunches. All of these opportunities have allowed me to start getting to know the school's students and policies.
Starting next week, I am going to begin tackling projects with their help. Building on observations I have conducted in the classrooms, I am going to create a behavioral plan for certain students to help them focus in class. I am also going to create a “social story,” a really basic step-by-step instructional tool to explain a new situation to a student. For example, a social story may detail what a student does on a field trip day to help them deal with the unusual shift in schedule. Soon, I will even plan and execute lessons centered around friendship versus bullying to teach to some of the younger classes!
Ironically, in my attempt to see what exists beyond school, I ended up back in a school. Perhaps, that is reflective of my calling, or maybe I’ll go a different way entirely. Regardless, my Emma’s Advice for you today is to take every internship opportunity you can. Learning in a classroom can go a long way, but learning in the real world can go even further, and I will be forever grateful for the experiences I am gaining at the West Somerville Neighborhood School.