Hello, my name is Lyly Dixson. I am a returning student working on obtaining my second associate degree from Springfield Technical Community College. The first was a general studies degree, and I am now focusing on Computer and IT Security. I was offered the opportunity to work on a “STEM Pre-Teaching Internship” with Professor Reena Randhir from the STEM Starter Academy at STCC and Miss Jennifer Cherry from the High School of Science and Technology. The details of the internship were straightforward: Observe HSST teachers and note what elements go into creating class curricula – ultimately discovering what goes into being an effective STEM teacher.

The internship involved observing STEM classes such as Biomedical Science, Computer Science, and Engineering followed by daily reflection activities and group debriefing. We reviewed STEM curriculum and lesson plans that is used for specific subjects. We learnt how to create interactive lesson plans and execute them effectively. The experience was more than just classroom observations and collecting data though. I was able to gain actual tangible experience with my cohort for this internship. The cohort itself was full of charismatic students namely Oliwia Bragiel, Emerson Alexander, Maureen Burke and Danyari Rodriguez who were all extremely engaged and ready to learn. That kind of stimulating environment, as well as Miss Cherry being prepared for all the various situations that happened through this internship, made this a cherished and memorable experience.

This opportunity also helped me continue to hone my critical thinking skills. The internship helped me think critically about the parts of a class where students might have trouble with the material, and find ways to make the information more accessible. This internship guided me to work on developing flexibility with lesson planning. I was very impressed with how Ms. Cherry used a see-through mask and closed captions for classes to assist students with visual or hearing impairments. I had thought teaching was supposed to be extremely planned and regimented, but this class also helped me learn to be more easy-going at times and I can understand how others learn and build on that to develop ways that I can teach effectively. Knowing something well enough to be able to effectively communicate and teach is a skill that is invaluable and spans over more than just STEM fields.

Should this opportunity be offered again, I would suggest anyone considering a STEM teaching career apply. This program taught base skills that were transferable into other disciplines as well as having specific skills that are based in STEM technology. In the end, I did more than just develop skills – I formed lasting relationships that are meaningful, as well as able to help me advance in my career. I thank STCCs STEM Starter Academy for providing me with this internship opportunity.