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School stories: Leominster Center for Excellence

Tell us a bit about you, your school and internship program.

Hey! I’m Emma Brassard and I am the school counselor at Leominster Center for Excellence. LCE is an Innovation school and a proud part of the Big Picture Learning network. This is my fourth year at LCE and although my title is “school counselor,” I serve many different roles. Hands down, one of the best parts of my job is helping students get set up with amazing internships. Every student, grades 9-12, participates in an internship two days a week, totaling about 10-14 hours of real world, hands on learning outside of our school walls. Not only do these internships give students real world experience, but it allows them to try new things, leap out of their comfort zones, and make connections with adult mentors in our community.

How do you use ImBlaze to support your program?

ImBlaze has been a fantastic tool in supporting our internship program. We fully utilize the database to keep track of sites, mentors, contact information, and other important details. We also use the attendance feature to track student attendance and their hours at internships. As the person who keeps track of daily school attendance, it is so helpful to be able to login to ImBlaze and see who has checked in to their internships and when. As LCE grows, a data management tool like ImBlaze is essential to our success!

How has ImBlaze impacted how you support getting students out into real-world learning experiences?

Students know that if they are curious about a certain type of opportunity, they can log in and check out our database of past internships and mentors. We love that this allows them to take ownership of their internship search process! Leominster, a city of just over 40,000, does not have the same number opportunities for internships as a large city like Boston would. However, the network of mentors that we have developed over the years is an incredible testament to how strongly people in the community feel about giving young people an opportunity to learn in the real world. Our ImBlaze database acts as a simple tool to connect students to these supportive professionals. It also allows us to control which internship sites students can or can’t reach out to at any given time. We recognize that hosting students for informational interviews, shadow days, and ultimately internships, is rewarding but hard work for mentors. We value the relationships we have with these sites and ImBlaze helps us make sure that we are keeping the process stress-free for these amazing mentors as well.

Tell us an example of an amazing internship at your school. Do you have a student who might want to share her/his internship story?

We have so many amazing internships at our school! From veterinary hospitals to tattoo parlors, water testing laboratories to local TV stations, our students’ internships represent our diverse student body. Some other great internship sites include a physical education classroom, an auto body shop, a local bakery, a granite and marble manufacturer, and a web design company.

Juliana is a freshman who came to us this year with a passion for education and helping others. She landed herself an awesome internship in a second grade general education classroom at Fall Brook Elementary School. Juliana is certainly not the first student we have had intern in an elementary school classroom, however her excitement and willingness to dive deep into this work goes above and beyond!

Student Feature! Juliana Ossai

Student Juliana Ossai organized a field trip for her second graders to come visit LCE for her Trimester 2 Exhibition. Here she is sitting down for a chat with some of her students in our common area. She is also joined by her grandfather Denis, a retired educator of over 35 years!

Hi! My name is Juliana Ossai and I go to Leominster Center for Excellence.

When I set out on my internship journey, I wasn't completely sure what I wanted to do, but I knew that my passions consisted of helping and teaching others. I looked into these fields on ImBlaze and saw a couple of places I could possibly call. I started going out on informational interviews with teachers as well as a school guidance counselor. I liked these experiences very much, but in the end, Fall Brook Elementary School was where I felt I made the best connection with my mentor and is where I got my first internship!

Pam Gordon, our LTI Coordinator, set me up on my phone with the ImBlaze app. This is where I track my attendance every day to show that I’m putting in the correct amount of time for the week. I intern in Mrs. Oldfield’s 2nd grade class (the students call me Miss Juliana). I was the first freshman this year to get an internship. At my internship I’ve learned how to use a gradebook, I grade the students’ homework for the week in math and reading, and correct the students’ tests as well.

I help Mrs. Oldfield pass out materials to students and also put them into their mailboxes. I print, cut, copy, and laminate papers as well as hang posters up around the classroom. My favorite part of my internship is when I am able to work with children 1 on 1. An example of this would be helping them edit and revise their writing pieces.

Mrs. Oldfield has also given me the opportunity to lead lessons on my own. A passion of mine outside of school is American Sign Language, so I have done a couple of mini lessons of ASL with the class. I’ve taught them the alphabet and done projects with the kids and I will continue to show them phrases and teach them about ASL and deaf culture. I look forward to planning more lessons on my own and implementing them with my students.

I have grown a lot since the beginning of the year because I've had more experience through real world learning than I could have had in a traditional high school. It has also really boosted my self-confidence. I have been very shy for most of my life- I wasn’t even able to raise my hand in class without feeling insecure. Coming to LCE was a life changing decision because I feel better about my surroundings and my overall well-being. I’m able to really follow my passions and do the things I love most!

This October, Juliana's class celebrated fall by having a "Pumpkin Fiesta!" She assisted her mentor in leading small groups through all sorts of fun, pumpkin-related activities.


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