I was sitting on the edge of my seat as was everyone in the
audience. We could not wait to hear the
next sentence. The students in Field
Experience 1, taught by Nathan Schloetel and Aimee Sharp, were sharing their
internship experiences. I sat there
thinking, who were these professionals standing in front of me?
I remember when these same students were in my second year
Citizenship class. Three years ago,
these students were timid, sometimes unable to complete homework and struggled
with social relationships. I remember
assigning a group project. The students
lacked confidence, unsure of how to communicate much less accomplish an
academic project. The students struggled
through the group dynamics and communication to deliver impressive presentations.
What I was now experiencing in Field Experience 1 was a group of
individuals who were confident, insightful and eloquent. As they reported their internship experience,
every student stood with poise and professionalism. They were dead serious about their work
experience. They took pride in what they
were accomplishing. Fellow students
asked critical thinking questions that caused classmates to step forward with
possible ideas and solutions. Now that
is collaboration. Wow!
I would like to highlight a student in that class named Christina. She has given her permission for me to share
some information about her. I met
Christina as she was beginning her second year at OLS. Christina was attentive and did her homework,
but struggled in social relationships with other students. I could say that she expected the world and
others to revolve around her, and she expected classmates to see things as she
saw them. Christina struggled with
flexibility, professionalism, physical presence and collaboration, to name a
few. She viewed daily challenges as
events that someone should be blamed for.
Christina’s thinking was negative when it came to herself and others.
Three years later, Christina is a maturing young woman. She accepts responsibility, she is forgiving,
and approaches issues with compassion.
Christina is very aware of her tendency to think about things
negatively. She is also aware enough
that she stops those thoughts (most of the time) and stays on a positive,
productive track. Best of all, Christina
has a professional career focus. Her
internship is at Lake Washington School District. Christina assists high school students as
their Job Coach. She helps them write
resumes and cover letters, and she teaches her students how to be appropriate
in the greater community. As I watched
Christina talk about her profession, I was awe struck. I could see that Christina has acquired the
skills and growth necessary to help her students. Christina takes personal and professional
responsibility for her students. I asked
myself, how could anyone make this much progress in the last three years?
Students in this program make this kind of progress because of
everything that happens in this program and because of every person who works
it in. As staff, we build on one
another’s strengths and make contributions to students’ growth. This progress also happens because of the
purposeful design of the courses and wrap-around services that are artfully
orchestrated by OLS leadership. By the
time students get to their internship experience they, too, will have made amazing
The truth is that I could write a story about each of the students
in Field Experience 1. Time and e-space
make that impossible. Any student, yes
YOU, can be a fabulous story, too.
I left Nathan’s class feeling inspired, gratified and wowed! I left feeling gratitude for all of our
gifted staff members, our students and their supportive families. I wish all of you could have been a ‘fly on
of Instruction/Instructor OLS at Bellevue College, February 2014