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How I Spent My Summer Vacation

A teacher’s story…

Remember the first day back to school after summer break? Your assignment: write about "How I Spent My Summer Vacation."

Teacher Debbie Thomas spent part of hers learning how to better teach her students. In addition to cookouts and family trips, she can write about how she spent a week in the Summer Teacher Externship Program, or STEP.

The in-depth experience immerses teachers in the business environment. It helps them identify skills students need to succeed in the classroom and in life.

Lifelong Learning

Debbie is a fourth-grade teacher at Granville Intermediate School in Ohio. She is proud of her 30+ years as an educator.

“I was born to be an educator,” she says. “The opportunity to work with students makes my professional life the best. I get to see them excited by learning, and proud of learning new skills."

When she heard about STEP, she knew she had to take part. “Learning is a natural part of my life. Learning more about how to best prepare my students is a natural part of my work in the classroom."

The Teacher Becomes the Student

Debbie spent her STEP week at the State Farm Newark Operations Center in Ohio. She visited more than a dozen departments. One of the highlights of her visit included a rooftop tour of the Newark Operations Center. There she chilled out in one of the chillers that cools the facility. She also visited State Farm Agent Amanda Erwine’s office in Pataskala, Ohio.

“It was a wonderful opportunity to connect with a local educator,” Amanda said. “We discussed the leadership skills we want to see in our future workforce.”


As a result of her STEP experience, Debbie is incorporating aspects of a “Team Huddle” into her daily classroom routine. The huddles address student ownership of learning, a major educational goal. Students will rate each day according to the effort they invested. This self-critique is a new skill for her students. It helps them realize effort expended to do their best is never wasted.

Debbie learned about the 21st Century skills needed to be successful in today’s world. By sharing what she learned, she has high hopes for her students.

“As my students continue to grow and mature they will be capable, wonderful adults. They will far exceed my expectations when it is their turn to take the leadership roles in our community.”

When business and education connect, good things happen. This type of collaboration provides opportunities and experiences beyond traditional curriculum. Educators and students are better positioned to be college-, career- and citizen-ready.