MetWest Internships (Part 7)

The last post described student and teacher participation in twice-weekly internships in Oakland businesses, government agencies including schools, health facilities, and social services.



Advisor/Teachers work closely with students in their sites and are responsible for connecting what they learn with the academics they teach–English, history, math, science, foreign language.



Mike Cellemme is Learning Through Internship (LTI) coordinator. He finds a site and locates a mentor willing to take and supervise a MetWest student. He talks to students about what they are interested in and want to learn more about and then finds a match between site, mentor, and student. He supervises the overall program. The process looks like this:


*ImBlaze is a website that Big Picture schools use to identify possible internships for students


A former teacher at The Met in Providence (RI), he is experienced, savvy,and committed to making the program work for students, teachers, and work site mentors. What follows describes an afternoon I spent with Mike working with students and then going to an internship work site.

Like any high school program with many moving parts involving 160 students, a dozen or so teachers, and over a hundred mentors in their workplace, some things go smoothly, some less so.

On March 21, 2019, I went to room 136 in MetWest to see Mike and Mayra Acosta (a graduate of program and now Resource Program Specialist) work with various students searching for and working in varied internships. Students came in, asked questions about their mentors and sites and left; others stayed and sat with Mike and Mayra to talk about issues that came up in their classes, Senior Thesis Project, and internships.

Here is what I observed over the next hour. Alonzo who had worked as an intern on an Oakland political campaign during the fall semester is now searching for a new internship. On her laptop screen, Mayra pulls up some possibilities for him to consider. She asks questions about what he learned during the last internship, his current interests, and what he has heard from other students about their internships.

Another student Anthony is talking to Mike about his Senior Thesis Project. On his laptop, Anthony goes through the slides he prepared for his upcoming presentation, based upon his interning at a Oakland Unified school. They go over the STP rubric criteria of rigor, relevance, timeline, and evaluation. The senior gives examples and asks Mike what he thinks. Jose, sitting on a couch, waits his turn to speak with Mayra.

Another student, 9th grader Maria who had attended the STP described in an earlier post, sat on a couch in the back of the room reading a novel. She came up to me to say hello–I had seen her at a presentation by two students of their Senior Thesis Project. I asked her where she is interning. She tells me she is working two days a week at the Talent Division (an employee department) of the Oakland Unified District. I asked her what she does and she explains that she goes over teacher applications to see that each one is completely filled out (e.g., social security number, phone number, years of experience in teaching). She also tells me that she wants to intern next in a school to work with children.

In the midst of the one-on-one with Anthony, Mike takes a call from a graduate who is calling for help on looking for a job. Mike quickly gives the alum the Juma website to look at and track down a job and a phone number to call someone Mike knows.  He then returns to Anthony and his STP.

Fifteen minutes later, Mike signals me that we are ready to go to an intern site called Hidden Genius where he will meet with Tre and his mentor. We go to Mike’s car and drive to another part of Oakland. He and I talk about the internship program. He tells me that about one-third of the 160 students in the school thrive in the internships, finding the experience worthwhile enough to use it as a springboard for their Senior Thesis Project and final Exhibition before graduating. Another third, Mike estimates, struggle but with help from their Teacher/Advisor, Mike, and the site mentor they grow intellectually and expand their skills in dealing with non-school adults and the demands of a workplace. Then there is the final third of students who need intensive, sustained help in getting a placement and then on-going coaching to stay in the internship. Frequent follow-up by the Teacher/Advisor and Mike for this bottom third of students is essential for these students to profit from the experience.

On our way to see Tre, we stopped at a traffic signal and Mike calls out to a teenager waiting to cross the street, “Hey, Danielle, how ya doin?” She acknowledges Mike and he says to her through the open window, “how come you are not at your internship?” No answer from Danielle. Just a smile. In the car, Mike says that she is interning at a funeral home on the other side of town. He says he will contact her later in the afternoon. He explains that some students have to be fired because of poor attendance and Danielle, a bright student, has already had to exit a previous placement.

We arrive at Hidden Genius Project. Tre is a senior and came to MetWesst just last year from a Oakland high school that he was stumbling through. At MetWest, he has caught fire in two different internship a previous one at Kaiser Permanente (a health organization) and here at Hidden Genius. His mentors at Hidden Genius assigned him projects that required him to learn the game Minecraft and adapt Python programming language for children (Tre has used the latter for other intern projects). Tre does programming to create software for use by students and adults some of which will be displayed at a May conference in Cleveland.

With Tre, his mentor, and me standing outside the workspace that Tre uses, Mike asks a series of questions of both Tre and the mentor. Mike takes notes rapidly on his cell phone. A few hours later, the mentor, Tre, and Teacher/Advisor receive these notes. Mike sent me a copy of what he sent out to the above people (and gave me permission to use it in this post).


LTI Performance
  • Harold is Mentor (pseudonym)
  • Tre has been here, on time, doing excellent work consistently
  • Missed one day with a doctor’s note
  • Tre has brought in some of his innovations from his Kaiser internship; we may use his code for an attendance / tracking system for our program
  • Tre is exceeding expectations in his project work and with additional actions / visits / youth engagement events
  • Tre is developing the skills needed to prepare a high quality presentation for the PYCON



Developing Curriculum for PYTHON CONFERENCE

Tre will create and facilitate a curriculum for a Python Conference (PYCON) in Cleveland in early May.




  • Due April 5: Tre will research best practices for teaching and facilitating.


  • Due April 5: Tre will analyze core texts (existing curriculum) to find best practices or innovate practices for the best educational impact


  • Due April 17: Tre will conduct interviews with teachers to learn best practices in facilitating and teaching (Jake Seltzer, Derek Boyd)


  • Due April 19: Tre will facilitate a demo lesson at MetWest with interested students
    • Tre will develop a PRE and POST Diagnostic to measure what students actually learned in the workshop.
    • Tre will arrange technology and lesson plan
    • Mike can help arrange students and classroom space
    • Tre will reflect on experience and revise lesson as needed.


  • Due April 23: Tre will present final curriculum to Hidden Genius Mentors for final approval


  • Due May 2(?): Presentation in Cleveland


  • Due May 16: Final Reflection and Q4 Exhibition
  • What was the key learning?
GOALS FOR GROWTH I can develop new content knowledge in teaching computer languages:

Core texts

  • Learn to Program with Minecraft
  • Python for kids
    • I can make innovations from these core texts


I can develop stronger teaching / facilitation skills:

  • Consult with Jake and Derek about teaching skills


I can develop mastery in public speaking skills

NEXT MEETING Jake or Mike will schedule a meeting to review goals for Mid-April

After the conference with Tre and his mentor, we returned to MetWest where Mike had more students to meet and to call Danielle. I thanked Mike and left.



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Filed under how teachers teach, school reform policies

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