Working to connect the classroom to the workplace, Exploring Careers through Industry Teacher Externships (EXCITE) is a professional development program operating for educators across 15 counties in Virginia. IALR is excited to fund 22 educators for EXCITE this summer, representing schools in Danville, Pittsylvania County, Henry County, Lunenburg County, Mecklenburg County, and Halifax County.


The purpose of EXCITE is to engage teachers and counselors with business and industry. Teachers improve their pedagogical practices by incorporating new methods, labor market information, and employment skills that meet current industry standards. The educational goal of EXCITE is to increase an educator’s ability to connect theory and practice and bring an understanding of workplace practices and policies (e.g., problem-solving methods, practical applications of theory, leadership concepts, etc.) into the classroom, thus increasing the relevance of student learning. For counselors, EXCITE should be beneficial to their work in assisting students with their career and academic planning.


With first-hand exposure, teachers can design and implement classroom activities, projects and work-based learning opportunities that will add relevance and meaning to students’ classroom learning. Externships provide a fresh perspective that lets teachers tie curriculum to real-world applications. They gain an increased ability to explain the value of what students are learning. This often leads to activities in which students work in groups, engaging in cooperative learning and open-ended real-life, problem-based assignments.

School counselors can use the experience to affect student options as they consider career plans and academic requirements. Having first-hand knowledge of employer expectations and job opportunities can assist counselors as they work to support students with the development of their academic and career plans.

Externships give employers other avenues of involvement with K12 systems. Employers can inform educators about their expectations of employees in various positions and offer input to the curriculum, thereby contributing to the preparation of their future workforce. They can also become guest speakers and mentors, host field trips and job shadows, and/or offer internships for students. In-kind donations of time and expertise are immensely valuable and provide employers an opportunity to show their commitment to their community.

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