Academy Students Get Hands-On Experience

Academy Students Get Hands-On Experience in Maintenance & Planning Department Internships
Posted on 07/01/2019
Student working on pipes outside a school

For 29 students in the School District of Palm Beach County’s construction academies, summer means taking the skills they are learning in class, and applying those skills to a hands-on internship with the District. 


The students are participating in the District’s Maintenance and Plant Operations (MPO) Student Teen Employment Program (STEP), which provides paid internships to enhance their trade skills. Currently in its sixth year, STEP pairs students with members of the District’s facilities team for one-on-one work experience. 


“It’s really nice to have them here,” said Stacey Marshall, director of Facilities Services for the School District. 


For some of the students, such as Max Lopez, a student at Atlantic Community High School, this is their second year in the program. 


“It’s honestly been great,” Lopez said. “I’ve gotten to try new things that will help me decide what I want to do with my future.” 


Lopez says that during his time in the program he has worked on fencing, painting, changing out ceiling tiles and white boards and overall maintenance to prepare the schools for the students’ return in August. 


Some students will also help with mulching and striping in parking lots. Additionally this year, a handful of students from Wellington Community High School’s Fire Academy will assist with maintenance of fire alarms. 


Marshall says that while the majority of the interns who come from the construction academies at Atlantic, Lake Worth, Seminole Ridge, Royal Palm Beach, Jupiter and Dwyer high schools, as well as West Tech are male, this year there are four female students in the program. That is double the number from last year’s STEP. 


Not only is STEP a beneficial program for the students, the District is also hoping it is the first step towards training these future high school graduates and sparking their interest in a career with the School District. 


As the demand for these jobs continues to grow, the District also sees a need for employees in its trade positions. Since the program started in 2014, the MPO team has hired eight previous interns for full-time positions. 


“It’s a win-win,” Marshall said. “They get great experience and we can bring them in and potentially hire them.”

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