Teachers get schooled in real-world job skills, take lessons back to campus

Dozens of Stanislaus County teachers took jobs off campus this summer, taking notes on how class lessons relate to workplace skills.

Among them was Maria Prasad of Dutcher Middle School in Turlock, who spent five days adjusting to life without any discernible bell schedule in The Bee newsroom. She came in expecting to get ideas to teach writing skills, she said, but found teamwork, tenacity and being self-starters were just as important in the work-a-day news world.

Internships provided through Stanislaus Partners in Education let teachers pick the field they wanted to learn about and arrange workable times.

Patterson High art teacher Christine Pugliese took the opportunity to find out about jobs in architecture, interviewing staff at Pires, Lipomi & Navarro Architects, creating her own floor plan and building a model.

Sketching her floor plan turned out to require a lot more math than she expected, she said during a debriefing session for employers and teachers who took part in the program. Floor plans and architectural models will be among the assignments her students will see this year.

“A lot of my students are interested in architecture,” Pugliese said. “It’s really gratifying to find out there are lots of jobs in that field, even if you’re not a full architect.”

For Johansen High football coach Scott Sacuskie, days spent studying the athlete training programs at Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley, were a chance to learn new ways to prevent concussions, as well as the latest skill-building techniques for his Modesto team.

The two universities take entirely different approaches to training, he said. “They’re polar opposites,” Sacuskie said. At UC Berkeley, he saw traditional strength exercises and a shift in athletes’ attitude to help them win. The Stanford program focused on functional movement, perfect technique over lots of reps, he explained.

“By changing physique, they had fewer hamstring injuries, lower back injuries,” Sacuskie said. Most impressive, after a season of specific neck exercises, the coach last year saw a 73 percent drop in concussions.

This year, Sacuskie’s team will be wearing concussion-monitoring helmets purchased for all Modesto City Schools high school football teams. But the exercises are a way of stopping concussions before they happen, he said.

“I truly believe the partnership between the helmets and neck exercises can have a significant impact on our league and drastically lower the number of concussions suffered by our athletes,” he wrote in his submitted report, adding that he hopes to share what he learned with all Modesto coaches.

Prasad plans to share her lesson plans for making a collaborative class newsletter. Pugliese found an industry-used drafting program, SketchUp, is available for free to schools, news she is bringing back to all the art teachers she knows.

Each also pledged to spread the word about the paid teacher internships offered by SPIE. “Who would pass this up if they had the opportunity?” Pugliese asked.