Business, take in a teacher and transform a school

Bettina Khanthongdy, teacher at Southeast Polk High School, worked as a Teacher Extern at Innovative Lighting in Roland, Iowa.

Here’s a quiz for you: What Iowa STEM program, after getting jumpstarted by a Career Awareness grant from the Iowa Economic Development Authority, earned a million dollar boost from the National Science Foundation? What program was named one of the top 34 most innovative and effective STEM education solutions in the country by the Carnegie Corporation? What program has been featured by the National Career Pathways Network in the book, Building Interest in STEM Careers and by Education Week in a national webinar? What program has 96 percent of business partners believing it made significant contributions to operations? What program has over 90 percent of teachers claiming it was the best professional development they ever had? And, what program has proven results in generating more interest in STEM among high school students (especially girls)?

If you guessed the STEM Council’s Iowa STEM Teacher Externships program, you’re right! Since 2009, about 300 Iowa secondary STEM teachers have immersed themselves in a hundred different work environments (listed here -, earning graduate credits and six weeks of summer pay while updating what and how they teach to be more in line with the job world that awaits their students.

While hosting a Teacher Extern at Hy-Vee’s corporate offices, a supervisor said teachers, “…bring a fresh set of eyes to our business and can offer solutions we may not have even considered. They in turn get real-life experiences they can take back to the classroom with real-life examples that kids can relate to.”

A teacher who had spent a summer at John Deere Des Moines Works realized, “If teachers don’t get out and see how businesses actually operate, it is hard for them to convey business operations and models to their students. Also, by experiencing the latest trends and technology, I can teach as a more informed resource.”

Now is the window of time for Iowa workplaces to step up for a Teacher Extern (or two!) for summer 2016. Register your interest at or direct any questions to

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