Teachers get taste of Morristown industries with externship program

Tim LeSueur, a teacher at Morristown-Hamblen High School East, talks about his experiences working with Meritor as part of the Hamblen County Educator Externship Program.

Nearly 20 educators spoke Wednesday morning about their experiences with the Hamblen County Educator Externship Program in the Foundation Room of Walters State Community College.

Teachers, guidance counselors and librarians from the Hamblen County school system made up the workforce that participated in the externship program, which is entering its fifth year.

“I’m excited to hear about your experiences,” said Hamblen County Mayor Bill Brittain to open the program.

A total of 20 Hamblen County educators took part in the program, which saw them spend four days each in area industries. The participating industries were Arconic, Colortech, Kawasaki, MAHLE, Meritor and Rich’s Products.

Each team of educators that worked at one of the six industries gave a brief summary Wednesday about their experiences about being taken out of the classroom or the school and put in a factory.

All of them agreed on one thing, it was very different than they thought.

“We now understand factory work can be interesting,” said Karen Rogers, an East High School teacher who worked at Arconics.

In many circumstances, the educators found they learned lessons themselves as they worked the factories.

Brittany Simonds, a Hillcrest Elementary teacher, said when she walked into Colortech, she found it not to be like what she imagined.

“It feels like a community when you walk in there,” she said.

The Colortech team described how there was a lot of creativity to be found in the factory and they were impressed by the companies’ philosophies. They said they were taught goal oriented philosophies such as “The Seven Ways to Be Effective” and the “Circle of Concern.”

Brian Bowlin, an East High School teacher, said he was impressed with his experience at Kawasaki.

“They don’t waste anything,” he said. “They don’t waste time. They don’t waste material.”

All of the teams spoke about how much safety is important in the factories and how clean they are.

Emily Sexton, a Lincoln Heights Middle School teacher, worked at Meritor and said she had heard all her life “go to college” and if someone doesn’t “you’ll end up working at a factory all your life.”

She said she now knows that thinking is wrong and that there are very good jobs within the industries.

Those jobs include workers up to people with degrees in business administration and mechanical engineering.

Stephanie Dalton, librarian at Russellville Elementary School, worked at Rich’s Products, and said her experience has led her to buy new nonfiction books this year for the school.

Those books will look at baking, chemical engineering and mechanical engineering, she said.

Participants in the 2019 Externship Program were:

• Arconic: Brandon Davis, West View Middle; Karen Rogers, East High School and Shondra Helton, Alpha Elementary

• Colortech: Brittany Simonds, Hillcrest Elementary; Deena Reed, West High School and Melanie Hunt, East High School

• Kawasaki: Brian Bowlin, East High School; Candace Proffitt, John Hay Elementary and Sarah Leeper, Fairview-Marguerite

• MAHLE: Jessica Moore, Manley School; LeAnne Maness, East High School; Melanie Justis, West High School and Trista Godbey, West View Middle School

• Meritor: Donna Kanipe, Whitesburg Elementary; Emily Sexton, Lincoln Heights Middle and Tim LeSueur, East High School

• Rich’s Products: Lindsey Hayes, Fairview-Marguerite; Rachel C. Newsom, Meadowview Middle School; Stephanie Dalton, Russellville Elementary and Stevie Ray, East High School