Story by Eva D. Coleman
“Not a summer on the sideline, but a season of opportunity,” said Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere as he explained the mission 116 Plano ISD high school students embarked upon as a part of his Summer Internship Program.
With “Mayor Harry,” as the students and so many others affectionately call him, leading the charge, they are prepared to win, again and again.
Stated as such with the grand entrance into the ballroom where the celebration luncheon took place at Hilton Dallas/Plano Granite Park. The mayor along with several interns rushed in, pumping their fists and waving their hands in the air to the popular song and lyrics, “All I do is win, win, win no matter what.”
LaRosiliere’s commitment and connection to the program are evident as students lined up after the event to take a picture or selfie with the popular mayor who leads a bustling city of growth with major companies planting new roots, eager to call Plano “home.”
The paid summer internship program, now at the conclusion of its fourth year, places students inside such corporations, giving them a chance to learn well beyond the classroom.
“We really want our kids to acquire 21st century skills, problem solving, working collaboratively, communicating,” Plano Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Brian T. Binggeli said. “We ask our private sector folks to give our kids problems to solve.”
The program has a twist. It now includes a teacher externship program that welcomed 11 Plano ISD educators.
“We ask our teachers to be learners, reflective practitioners and we thought, ‘Isn’t there a way that we could connect them?’” Binggeli said. He also shared the desired goal of the connection is “to the world of work they’re preparing students for and allow them to learn in that setting that they could hopefully bring back to the classroom and even their colleagues.”
Educators Megan Adams-Smyth and Melinda Kizer shared with the audience their takeaways from the program, which included experiences in collaboration and technology, new lesson plans and a goal of teaching something that may seem so simple.
“I realized students had never been on a conference call,” Kizer said. A lesson on this could have students “work on being better listeners and stronger speakers,” she added.
Retired Dallas Police Chief David Brown delivered the keynote address, sharing stories of his childhood and lessons on race he’s experienced throughout his life. He focused on the bigger picture of people with diverse backgrounds working together.
“History is watching us as we are divided or as we reconcile,” Chief Brown said.
From the program beginning until the end, Mayor Harry made attendees aware of the real MVPs in the room.
“You’ve arrived and you’re ready to be large and in charge,” LaRosiliere said.