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Empowering Unique Learners
Interns gain real-world experience while still in high school
Katie Stalter


Three Miriam High School seniors are getting a head start on work experience before they put on a cap and gown.

The high school is piloting an internship program this year - called Volunteer Work-Based Learning - that they hope to expand to many more students in the future. In conjunction with the work experience, Miriam staff provide training in job skills, soft/interpersonal skills and independent living.

Each student’s program culminates with a project, activity or other method of demonstrating learning. So far, students are gaining quite a bit from their internship experiences.

Adele loves working with young children and is considering a career as a daycare or preschool teacher. She is interning at Immanuel Lutheran Preschool two mornings per week, helping the children settle in and begin activities. Adele works at Immanuel Luthern until 9:15 on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and then starts her day at the high school.

“I love working with young kids. They’re just fun,” Adele said. She also feels this experience is teaching her more about responsibility when it comes to working in the real world. Adele plans to attend St. Charles Community College after graduation.

Narhya is learning about organization and prioritization while interning at Five Oaks, Olivette’s new community center. She helps with office work, as well as facility setup. Narhya likes the autonomy she receives in this position, and she appreciates the quietness of the space.

Grace has a bit of a different setup, as she is tutoring fellow Miriam students in math to complete volunteer hours for the A+ program. That program provides a scholarship to St. Louis Community College, where she is planning to study interior design. She is assisting Donna Higgins in her math class, as well as working individually with some of the younger students. 

The objective of our program is to expose seniors to entry level jobs, with a focus on learning general work behaviors that can transfer to any job experience.
Terri Pruitt, dean of academic programming and partnerships

Pruitt said selecting students for internships is a “committee decision.” She and Principal Vicki Thurman discuss internship and student possibilities, gather information from faculty members, and make a decision based on input. “We look for students whose schedule allows for the internship, and then determine which students would be a good match personality- and interest-wise.”

They plan to expand the Volunteer Work-Based Learning Program next year.

Miriam serves students with learning differences - such as learning disabilities, ADHD, autism, speech and language disorders, anxiety, and sensory challenges - with wraparound support that helps them thrive in high school and beyond.
 

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