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Industry immersion: Noble Texas Builders graduates second cohort of teachers through externship program


By Steve Clark, Brownsville Herald

Local teachers who participated in the second cohort of Noble Texas Builder’s Teacher Externship Program display their certificates of completion during an Aug. 11 ceremony at Resaca Middle School. From left: Jessica Hedrick and Jose De Jesus Pesina, Point Isabel Independent School District; Robert Saldana, McAllen ISD; and Patricia K. Hernandez, Los Fresnos Consolidated Independent School District. (Steve Clark/The Brownsville Herald)

Noble Texas Builders hosted a graduation ceremony Aug. 11 for the second cohort of local high school teachers to complete Noble’s Teacher Externship Program, which gives teachers an inside view of the construction industry that they can share with students trying to figure what to do considering career paths after high school.

The program also aims to helps create a workforce pipeline to satisfy Noble’s demand for skilled talent, while offering opportunities for high-paying jobs to those just entering the workforce, and lifting up communities in the process.

The event took place in the library of Los Fresnos Consolidated Independent School District’s new Resaca Middle School, which Noble built. In attendance were administrators from the three school districts participating in this year’s cohort and the graduating teachers: Jessica Hedrick and Jose De Jesus Pesina of Point Isabel Independent School District, Patricia K. Hernandez of Los Fresnos CISD and Robert Saldana of McAllen ISD.

Rene Capistran, president and CEO of the La Feria-based construction company, which also has offices in San Antonio, said the externship program was the product of collaboration between Noble and Los Fresnos CISD Superintendent Gonzalo Salazar that began a year ago.

“You want to talk about a kid in a candy store,” Capistran said. “Dr. Salazar was, like, ‘Let’s do it. What do we have to do?’ Together we created the externship program.”

Capistran likewise thanked administrators from Point Isabel and McAllen ISDs, including his wife, Teri Capistran, superintendent of Point Isabel ISD. Both districts joined Los Fresnos CISD this year in the externship program.

“In an era of rapid technology advancement and evolving careers, the cooperation between educators and industry professionals has never been more crucial,” he said. “As an educator you (teachers) have a responsibility that goes beyond imparting knowledge. You must equip your students with the skills and insights they need to thrive in the real world. This is where the teacher externship comes into play.”

When teachers step out of the classroom and immerse themselves in industry, it “bridges the gap between theory and practice, and enables teachers to bring real world relevance to their teaching methods,” Capistran said.

“It’s about fostering a deeper understanding of how the concepts they teach are applied in professional settings,” he said. “Teachers gain first-hand insight into the latest trends, challenges and advancements. This knowledge allows them to tailor their curriculum to match the demands of the job market.”

The goal is to prepare students academically while also equipping them with practical skills employers need, Capistran said, adding that this is “only the tip of the iceberg” where the externship program is concerned.

“We’re excited about enhancements to our program next year,” he said. “With the help of our partners Cameron and Hidalgo Workforce Solutions, and the (Texas) Workforce Commission, we plan to scale up this program and bring additional industry partners. We are currently working with a hospital system and a bank.”

Bryan Daniel, chairman of the workforce commission, was also in attendance at the ceremony and said Noble’s externship program is “something we should be celebrating.”

“Teachers get a lot of good opportunities to see real-world applications they can bring into the classroom,” he told the Brownsville Herald. “But then businesses in the state really can start building a pipeline of workforce that they might want to bring in. It starts with the teachers. They teach the students, students then have internship opportunities with somebody like Noble, then this process just starts to build on itself.”

Daniel said Noble sets a good example of how such a program is done.

“You need a couple of weeks,” he said. “It’s not a two-day workshop. You need to let teachers see all aspects of the operation: the business side, the manufacturing side, the service side, whatever your product is. And I think you need to pay attention to both the students and the teachers, offer both teacher externship and student internship opportunities. That’s something Noble’s done. They’ve been a great model.”

Dr. Juan Chavez, who joined Noble in July as vice president of leadership development after serving 25 years as BISD director of career and technical education, said teachers who go through the externship program learn all facets of construction, finance, human resources and problem-solving scenarios, and also spend time on a build site interacting with project superintendents and managers, quality control managers and others.

It’s all part of “closing the skills gap between academia and industry,” he said.

“Our goal is to expand our teacher externship program throughout this region and eventually throughout the state to create a much larger impact to bridge the divide,” Chavez said. “Essentially it will serve as a vehicle to inspire hope, improve lives and strengthen the communities we live in.”

Original Credit goes to Steve Clark, Brownsville Herald. View the original article here.

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