“Every day across the city of Tulsa, Tulsa MET students are representing,” said Trish Pruitt, the Learning Through Internship coordinator at Tulsa MET. “You go places and talk about our students. They talk about how wonderful they are. If you just give them a chance, give them that love, they’re going to grow.”
Two of those stellar students are Elian Ayvar and Blaze Thompson. Elian and Blaze both had internships with Spirit AeroSystems over the spring and summer. There they learned about manufacturing and explored many jobs involved in the process.
At the end of the internship, they applied for positions that interested them. Both young men were offered jobs, which they started in September. Elian will pursue bonding, Blaze will be a structures insulation mechanic, and Spirit will provide the training they need to do the jobs well.
“This is going to be their place for a while. They’ll take the skills that they’ve learned [at Tulsa MET] and transfer them to the real world. They’re going to grow up to be successful adults,” said Trish Pruitt. “Spirit AeroSystems loves what they do. They embrace how we learn. I’m all about experiences and learning through experiences. Math and science and reading, we can teach those anywhere, but when you teach those through something you love that knowledge comes alive.”
Tulsa MET joined forces with Spirit AeroSystems in March of 2019 as part of their continuous effort to find internship opportunities that will help students find their niche.
“I’ve been in education for 33 years, and this is how it should be done. Making those connections and finding that passion,” said Trish. “We take time to get to know the students. We know what they’re interested in; we know what things might be a little scary for them to do. We help them to find that confidence, to help find that passion. If you find something that you are interested in, that you love, that’s where real learning takes place. Learning takes place out there.”
The process begins with the junior high students who take part in career exploration. Once they reach high school, they are able to take part in internships on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
These internships help students set goals for the future and explore options available to them after they graduate. It also helps companies in Tulsa find great candidates.
“It’s the wave of our future. We’re looking for people to come in and fill our positions,” said Kaelin Blasdel, Spirit AeroSystems Human Resource Business Partner. “Really what we’re looking for are high school students who may not be able to afford college or may not be interested in college and just want a career that they can sustain their families with for their whole lifetimes. As long as they want to stay there and be a productive employee, we want them.”
Kaelin said Spirit will be searching for twenty more interns for 2020 and will have several more positions opening up as they acquire additional work contracts. The partnership isn’t just about getting Tulsa MET student to Spirit, however. Spirit team members also spend time at Tulsa MET. In September, they spent the day sprucing up the school for the United Way Day of Caring. Approximately 30 employees, including Blaze and Elian, worked on three major projects: setting up a STEAM room, optimizing the yoga room, and revamping the pollinator garden. A few students got the chance to help out by chiseling the school name into a huge piece of wood for the garden. At the end of the day, students, staff, and Spirit volunteers gathered in the gym to celebrate and say thank you.
“The opportunity to get these things are few and far between,” said Principal Valarie Farrow. “Not only have they donated their labor, time off of work, they have come up with money and donations to help with things around Tulsa MET.”
Spirit’s communication representative, Judy Jones, said it is great way to connect with students.
“They can see our employees that are here working today and see our personalities and how we work together as team. Hopefully the students will see that we enjoy working not only at our business but out in public as well,” she said.
Partnerships like this one have shown to be effective in keeping students focused on finishing high school. The school’s graduation rate increased by twenty percentage points for the 2018-2019 school year.
“We all get together to help each other be the best that we can be,” said Trish.