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Summer Internships Benefit Students

This summer, approximately 100 Portland Public Schools students were busy with internships that helped them explore a variety of potential careers that ranged from lobstering to engineering.

Students from Portland, Deering and Casco Bay high schools participated in more than 15 programs that provided a wide variety of extended learning opportunities (ELOs) for students, according to district ELO coordinators Sydney Williams at Deering High School and Andrea Levinsky at Portland High School. The opportunities included learning to lobster with Luke’s Lobster, working on an urban farm, exploring engineering at the University of Southern Maine and solving medical mysteries in a program hosted by MaineHealth and Tufts University.

Some students even earned the Maine Career Exploration Badge, which requires 40 hours of hands-on employer engagement experiences, coupled with online modules utilizing JMG’s Learning Management System to set goals, document their employer engagement experiences, and plan for their future. JMG (Jobs for Maine Graduates) is a statewide educational nonprofit that partners with public education and private businesses to offer results-driven solutions to ensure all Maine students graduate, attain post-secondary credentials, and pursue meaningful careers.

Below are some highlights of the 2023 Summer Internship Program:

Cultivating Community "Youth Growers" program:

In this program, students helped maintain the Boyd St. Urban Farm in Portland. They experienced taking care of that community garden, delivering local produce to elderly neighbors, learning leadership skills, cooking meals, playing games, and going on field trips. They learned about food justice and strengthened the community’s access to fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Students could choose between being paid and through Maine Career Exploration's work program or receiving a $500 stipend for full participation.

Here's a summary of students’ experience at the end of the summer: “Cultivating Community’s summer program, Youth Growers, has come to an end after two successful sessions. Our second cohort made many requests to eat chicken, rice, beans, and homemade cookies, but they also experimented with Italian and Asian dishes. When we weren’t cooking or eating, a ton of garden work was accomplished. We filled beds with soil for next year’s growing season, picked apples, harvested for daily meals, painted signs, and weeded constantly. We had a goofy time playing games and completing complex group challenges. Students delivered approximately 50 bags of local produce to neighbors, weekly. Throughout our workshops, our group learned about the intersection of soil health and climate change, self-care, nutrition, and many other pertinent topics. We also had the pleasure of getting a tour of Wolfe’s Neck Center. The Youth Growers loved meeting the farm animals, picnicking, and playing soccer in one of the center’s fields. As always, we wrapped up with a celebratory beach day. It has been a lovely summer filled with special people sharing exceptional meals and experiences.”

Inside Medicine program:

Inside Medicine is a virtual, statewide program for high school students hosted by MaineHealth and Tufts University Medical Students, through which high schoolers can explore the fascinating field of medicine through speakers and discussions featuring medical mystery cases. The sessions are incredibly engaging and allow students to get into the mindset of doctors and nurses as they are presented with hypothetical patient cases and work together in small groups to treat the patient, and then report their findings to the full group. This summer, Inside Medicine hosted 46 students from more than a dozen high schools in Maine, with four students from Deering High School participating. Three of the four Deering students attended enough sessions to receive a certificate that they can use to show program participation or to list on their college applications and resume. Inside Medicine runs throughout the year and is a wonderful way for high schoolers who are interested in the medical field to learn more about healthcare. The next Inside Medicine program will begin in October 2023.

4H Teen Teachers program:

July was a busy and exciting month for a wonderful team of five college interns, 10 teen teachers, 4-H staff, and several amazing community partners in Cumberland County. 4-H’s summer of science model engages a wide range of students from ages 7-21. 4-H staff trains college interns who help train and supervise teen teachers from eighth -12th grade who deliver one lesson per week for four weeks to elementary- and middle school-aged youth. Teen Teachers went to summer learning and summer lunch locations to teach small groups of young students science lessons.

Other summer programs in which PPS students participated included:

●      Cooking and restaurant training program at My Place Teen Center with Chef Mac Waybright, youth culinary program instructor

●      Assisting at arts camp at Mayo St Arts

●      CNA training program through JMG Academy

●      Girls who Code Camp

●      UNE Health Leadership Camp

●      Consider Engineering at USM

●      Seeds of Peace

●      Park conservancy with Portland Youth Corps

●      Portland Housing Authority’s Cheeta Program

●      Engineering internship at USM