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Learning Unboxed Ep. 14 with Meka Pace & Vanessa Jester

Today, we are going to talk about the value of internships in high school. I’m asked question about this all the time, so it’s clear that the subject is top of mind in many schools, communities, businesses, and industries. So, in this episode, I want to shine a spotlight on a partnership that exemplifies the benefits of high school internships, for both students and businesses, and encourage other communities to adopt a similar model.

Joining us are Meka Pace and Vanessa Jester, two women who are doing a lot to create learning opportunities in the Columbus community. Meka is the Executive Director and Superintendent of the Metro Schools network, which includes Metro Early College High School, Metro Middle School, and the Metro Institute of Technology. Vanessa is the Workforce Development Manager at Turner Construction, and she spends a lot of her time building and maintaining relationships with industry partners and community-based organizations and entities.

We unbox:

  1. We’ve heard about the origin of Metro in previous episodes – but what’s up with Metro today?

  2. A new definition of STEM: Strategies That Engage Minds.

  3. Why Turner Construction is so interested in what Metro brings to our community, from a business and industry lens

  4. What Metro-Turner internships are like for students

  5. Trusting that high school students can do the work

  6. The future of Metro’s workplace internship program

  7. The need for more corporate and industry partners to step up

  8. Metro’s Business Advisory Committee


The Turner program is only in its second year, so there is not a lot of data. However, all students in the Learning Labs are required to have a year-long internship resulting in a Capstone research project. Here is a link: The teachers help the students make connections to secure these internships. Also STEM Industry Council (SInC) works to help Columbus City Schools secure internships. Here is their website:


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