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Traversing the Partnership: Building a Legacy of Experiential Learning-Sheridan’s Internship Programming

Heidi Richins joins us as the career and technical education teacher for Sheridan High School in Sheridan County School District #2. She has worked in this role for about eight years and has maintained positive relations with community and business leaders to ensure the number of internship positions needed each year.


Earlier this year, the Wyoming State Board of Education’s Coordinator, Diana Clapp, reached out to internship-focused educators as part of the SBE’s “Profile of a Graduate” collaborative work to highlight what characteristics should be expected for Wyoming high school graduates. Internship-focused programs such as Heidi’s “NextLevel” program are crucial as they instill in students a drive to continue learning in a diverse range of areas. Some of the students decide to go into higher education, others go to vocational schools, and some find positions as apprentices. By engaging in these internships, students are also developing the knowledge needed in building networks and professional communication skills.


The internship program has been active at Sheridan High School for more than twenty years, though it has grown and shifted to meet the needs of the students who take part in these experiences. Students’ interests vary, with some students exploring mechanics whereas others may enjoy technology. No matter the route, Heidi is willing to find potential internships where the students can find out whether the career they are considering is one they want to pursue or not. One thing that has been found to be true is that community leaders and entrepreneurs are often more than willing to volunteer time and mentor the future tradespeople and division workers. In Wyoming especially, Heidi has found a spirit of volunteerism alive and well in the communities and this ensures potential relations for the school districts to cultivate.


One thing that Heidi encourages everyone to consider when building these internship programs is to understand what capacity exists in their community. One way to do this is to develop a smaller think tank of individuals who may know of other community members who should be reached out to during this program development process. In addition, it is necessary to determine who will be the community leaders who can make an impact in fostering these developing relationships and acting as a consistent mentor for students.

Heidi noted the involvement of Wyoming parents and the value that is placed in education. She discussed how important this is as often Wyoming teachers act as multi-purpose educators who are doing community outreach, teaching, coaching, and a wide variety of other roles. She said, “Wyoming is a small enough space so let’s focus on what our students in our communities need.”


Thanks go to Heidi for all the work she is doing to ensure that students have the tools needed to move forward no matter the path they take as long as they are willing to continue learning and growing. For more information on the Wyoming “Profile of a Graduate” program, go to the Wyoming Board of Education website. If you would like more information on developing internship experiences, please reach out and we would be happy to connect you to Heidi Richins.

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McWhinnie Hall, Room 213

Dept. 3374, 1000 E. University Ave.

Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: 307-766-3274

Email: partnership@uwyo.edu

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