Streamwood High's growing student internship program to expand next school year
From a young age, Alyssa Zuno saw her single mother struggling and was able to ease that burden by taking care of her two younger siblings.
The experience developed Alyssa's love for children and her passion for becoming a teacher.
"I've been wanting to do this since I was in second grade," said Alyssa, 16, a Streamwood High School sophomore who spent spring break teaching children at the Boys & Girls Club of Elgin. "It fills my heart. I love it so much. You have to have patience ... lots of patience because kids will be (bouncing) off the walls. You have to know how to stay calm."
Alyssa was among 39 Streamwood High School students participating in weeklong mini-internships this week as part of the Streamwood Career Exploration Program, now in its fifth year.
The program is a collaboration between Streamwood High School, Elgin Area School District U-46, and Streamwood's Community and Economic Development Commission. Students are placed with local organizations to learn about business, early childhood education and new manufacturing technologies. Officials plan to expand the program offering internships in new career pathways next school year.
This week, students interned with Streamwood Behavioral Healthcare System, Heidner Properties of Hoffman Estates, Gold Rush Gaming, the Boys & Girls Club of Elgin, Trelleborg Sealing Solutions, BBS Automation, Otto Engineering and the Technology and Manufacturing Association. They helped develop a business marketing plan for a new service and a promotional plan for a gambling cafe, worked on an in-school precision manufacturing project, and created new or modified after-school curricula.
All Streamwood High School students can apply for the program, which started off with 15 participants in each of the first three years, when the focus was on manufacturing jobs and business. Early childhood education was added two years ago.
"(Participation) has grown quite a bit, and they are expecting it to grow more," said Barb Thomas, Streamwood High business teacher and career exploration program coordinator. "The goal is to expose these students to the real world by having them work on industry-based projects with the potential for implementation. It has provided the students an understanding of what to expect once they leave high school."
Brooke Cidonio said she got to "see how different ages function" working with students from kindergarten through sixth grade at the Boys & Girls Club of Elgin.
Teaching runs in her family, said Brooke, 16, a sophomore who's debating whether to become an elementary school teacher or teach chemistry to high schoolers.
"I love the little kids, but I also love chemistry. I'm still leaning toward high school," she said.
Senior Anna Rataj, who helped produce a business proposal for Streamwood Behavioral Healthcare's new service line, said participating in the program the last three years has helped hone her communication skills.
"It's not the kind of experience you can get in a classroom," said Rataj, who plans to attend University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign this fall to study museum management.