Mississippi Power’s sponsorship of the Mississippi Educator Externship Program gave 10 local high school instructors a chance to learn how electricity is generated, how their students can potentially land jobs in the utility industry and be part of the company team during onsite experiences at Plant Daniel and Plant Watson.
“We can’t say enough about how appreciative we are to Mississippi Power for sponsoring this program,” said Charles Weir, Mississippi Department of Education director of business and industry. “These employees and instructors are the pioneers of this effort, where the end-in-mind is to provide students the knowledge and skills to be successful in today’s workforce.”
The pilot program, co-sponsored by MDE and spearheaded by the company’s Economic Development and Human Resources departments, wrapped up recently with a review session at Plant Daniel, where all the instructors agreed the externships will make them better educators.
“The Mississippi Power employees were dedicated to making sure we learned everything we could,” said Hale Switzer, a Gulfport High School science instructor who served his externship at Plant Watson. “The people we worked with made this experience work for us.”
Other instructors, like Sonya Ford, Moss Point Career and Technical Center instructor, said she considered herself among colleagues during her time at Plant Daniel thanks to the hospitality shown by company employees.
“I didn’t feel like I was a teacher,” said Ford, “I felt like I was part of the team. Thanks to this program, I can tell my non-traditional students about the diversity of employees here at Mississippi Power. This kind of real-world, practical experience will also help us be better instructors. In turn, that means we can give our students better material, which will hopefully create future employment opportunities for them locally.”
Fellow Moss Point CT Instructor Albert Horton also praised his externship experience.
“We got hands-on experience and got a feel for the tasks and responsibilities these employees have every day,” he said. “I also noticed how the workers here are given the independence to carry out tasks, think through challenges and take personal ownership of their jobs. I love the collaboration between the employees and how they run this equipment.”
Horton added that the program “is a much better way to earn Continuing Education credits than sitting in seminars.”
After extensive feedback during the review session, program leaders will now make the necessary tweaks and adjustments to take the externship experience for all involved to another level.
“The feedback was helpful,” said Ann Holland, Community Development representative. “There was great synergy between the externship instructors and our employees, which serve as our most important resource. Many of the employees at both plants are local, which gives these instructors extra motivation to urge their students to pursue jobs in our industry when they’re ready.”
The summer externship program will not only receive exposure inside many high school classrooms this fall, but the experience will also be documented in upcoming editions of a widely-recognized CTE publication sponsored by the MDE.
“We plan on featuring the summer externship program in upcoming editions of Connections, a K-12 CTE publication in Mississippi,” said Amanda Tullos, Mississippi State University Research and Curriculum unit representative. “We produce Connections for the MDE and feature new policies, laws and programs that help recognize all types of CTE. Highlighting this program will make a huge impact all over the state and nation.”
Mississippi Power, a subsidiary of Southern Company (NYSE: SO), produces safe, reliable and environmentally responsible energy for nearly 187,000 customers in 23 southeast Mississippi counties. Mississippi Power ranked first in the Southeastern Electric Exchange’s 2016 Safety Performance Reports and is consistently recognized as an industry leader in reliability, customer service and safety. Visit our websites at www.mississippipower.com and www.mississippipowernews.com, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube.