The Back Story: Modoc High School Principal Brian Norby is a big fan of CTE and had a vision. Recognizing the opportunities for local skilled entry-level work, for years he has focused hard on securing relevant programs at MHS to help students learn job skills as part of their high school experience. For a school of roughly 250 students, these 7 options allowed for exploration but didn’t address every student’s interest. In discussions with Senior Seminar teachers Harold Montague and Tim MacDonnell it was decided that Modoc High School could benefit student preparedness for post secondary employment opportunities by discontinuing the Senior Project and providing students with ‘real-life’ experiences for future employment considerations. The dream of offering an individualized career plan, connected to each student’s academic plan, was high on his list of priorities; the new School Counselor, Tanja Ramming was equally passionate about individualizing career development through work-based learning. Thusly, the Modoc High Senior Internship Program was created with Harold Montague taking the lead and coordinating the effort to develop and institute a Senior Internship program to replace the Senior Project. All parties agreed that the economic atmosphere of rural America was an urgent motivator to increase their graduates’ competitive advantage through real mentorship, work experience and networking. Red Bluff High School and Chico State University supplied templates for the necessary forms and waivers needed for student participation and school liability. Montague drafted a Senior Internship Manual that was mutually revised with the help of Norby and MacDonnell and the program was implemented at the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year.
Alturas was lucky to start off with a lot of community support. Our Executive Committee even included local employers like Erin Brogan of BLM and Adam Willoughby of Modoc Medical. Yet, neither employers nor schools could afford to dedicate an employee to the task of making these physical connections. Enter Advancing Modoc Youth ! Sarah Rayburn, the AMY Coordinator at the time, was given the task to meet with local employers individually and share the dream of creating a Senior internship program. She was also instrumental in developing a few of the forms for the Senior Project Manual. The overwhelming support from local employers, like Lt Danny Koetsier of the CHP and Carol Madison of TEACH, was the catalyst to create AMY ’s mission statement: Advancing Modoc Youth inspires community collaboration in order to facilitate social mobility for youth (fetus-26) and strengthen our local economy while preserving our Modoc identity.
The Goal: Use work-based learning as a tool for career exploration, development, and planning. Students experience what opportunities exist within their community as well as plan for career pathways with confidence.
The Program: Senior Seminar is a graduation requirement at Modoc High School that includes a 25 hour in-person internship with a local employer each semester. The course provides guidance through this process along with curriculum designed to help students transition out of high school and into independent Adulthood.
In Senior Seminar students develop resumes, learn about the job search and application process, practice formal communication skills and learn the basics of professionalism. Students also learn essential life skills that will assist them in their transition from a dependant at home to a post-secondary independent student or employee. After interest assessments and self-exploration, Seniors apply to internships within their field of match and/or area of interest. Then at the conclusion of each internship, students share their experience via an oral presentation and slide show before an audience of peers and a panel (composed of staff, community members and intern providers). They also revise their career plans as part of the self-reflection and evaluation component.
Senior Seminar teachers conduct an orientation with Internship Providers, get necessary contracts signed, and provide ongoing support to employers. They facilitate the application-to-placement process between the students and Internship Providers. Students applications are shared with providers who then rank their selections, the Intern Selection Committee reviews results and makes final determinations for placement. When students receive their placement, they are responsible for making contact and setting up the hours with the employer directly.
Internship providers engage students in a range of experiences from site tours, to job shadows and work experience along-side experienced employees. Some invite interns to in-house professional training and others include interns on project teams. Lastly, Internship Providers discuss with interns their progress, submit a mid-internship evaluation at the completion of 11-15 hours, have an exit interview with the intern and submit a final intern evaluation at the completion of 25 hours.
Modoc High School Senior Internships are now entirely handled in-house by the Senior Seminar teachers. As the program evolves, AMY continues to provide support in recruiting new employers and with administrative tasks. It was a successful project in terms of buy-in, sustainability, and work-based learning. When you’re in Modoc County keep an eye out for businesses displaying the AMY logo (shown below) – these businesses are dedicated partners with our school, our kids, and our future!