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June, 2006


MSAT Students Conclude 10-week Internship Experiences
"It's a good opportunity to get out in a workplace and experience what it is you're actually preparing for."
-Wilson McFarlin, Naturalist, Walker Creek Ranch

By Evelyn Holt

San Rafael, CA --May 3, 2006--- Juniors of the Marin School of Arts and Technology are required to complete a ten-week Workplace Learning Experience where they get to work in a professional environment as a participating member of a company. The program began early in March and ends May 12th, and is a highlight of this year at MSAT.
Students go out at least twice a week to their workplaces, leaving school at lunch and working until 5 p.m., with a requirement of completing eighty hours by the end. Each junior has a mentor at their placement as well as at school.

The program is modeled after Drake High school's Academy X's internship program, where Envision School's CEO Bob Lenz was a former teacher. "It's an innovative program that links the two worlds of school and work to engage students in learning and develop their professional and academic skills," says Lenz.

For a large part, students seek out their own placements, targeting personal areas of interest. Placements range from assistant chef at upscale restaurant Insalata's, to game designer at game developing company Morphonix. School advisors facilitate and support students at every stage, helping to develop resumes and visiting students at workplaces.

As educationally enriching as working in a professional environment may be, students are still expected to produce a product at the end of the internship. The project demonstrates all the student has learned at their particular workplace, and incorporates reflection on how they have matured, adapted and grown as an individual. This exhibition is presented to teachers, coworkers and mentors at the workplace.

Claire Manning is working at Walker Creek Ranch, an outdoor education school, in Petaluma. "Claire is learning what it is to be a naturalist," says Wilson McFarlin, her mentor. "She's helping the naturalists with teaching about adaptations, playing name games, and observing." For her final project, Claire is leading a group of fifth and sixth graders on a two and a half hour activity walk, demonstrating her knowledge of the subject and skills at managing a large group effectively.

Interest in film drew Sean Manning to eMotion Studios, based in Sausalito, who specialize in film post production. Sean is working with film editing software, and applying documentary making skills learned at MSAT to his workplace. Sean said the best part of his internship was "getting my own client and being able to serve his needs, and at the same time taking on the responsibility of representing a company." For his final exhibition, Sean plans on presenting samples of his work and talking about what goals he had coming into the internship, and what he's taking away.

One of the core values of MSAT is to have relevant curriculum. By getting students out in the 'real world' they hope to get kids to see applications of work done in school. MSAT's goal is to have both juniors and seniors complete an internship in the spring semester of both years.

About the Marin School of Arts and Technology

The Marin School of Arts and Technology, a public charter high school in Novato, was established by Envision Schools in the fall of 2003. Based on a nationally recognized model for excellence in secondary education, MSAT combines rigorous academic instruction with a small and personalized learning environment. The school's relevant curriculum and project-based learning motivates students by giving them the opportunity to combine classroom course work with real world experiences.

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