Vista del Lago Preceptorship Program

Vistas first Preceptorship Program members.

Hannah Braidman

Vista’s first Preceptorship Program members.

On Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013, Vista del Lago parents and their students celebrated the success of the first summer internship program for Vista del Lago students at Folsom City Hall.

Connie Lemon, a history and SAT preparatory teacher at Vista del Lago, and Dr. Eric Williams, a Vista parent, created V.S.P.P, or Vista Summer Preceptorship Program. Together, they established a program that gives Vista students the opportunity to work in a professional environment related to the careers they are seeking.

This program is considered more than that of a typical internship – that is why Lemon and Williams decided to call it a “preceptorship.” Or in other words, a practical work experience that is beneficial for a student yearning to be trained in a particular field by a professional.

This past summer, from June 24 to Aug. 2, nine students participated in this program. Four businesses and community partners participated in it, including: El Dorado Physical Therapy, Interstate Plastics, Kaiser Permanente and the City of Folsom.

Katelin Staab participated at El Dorado Physical Therapy, Jensen Rader spent her summer at Interstate Plastics, Kendra Lew, Alegra Mendez, Clare Carroll and Lindsay Piwinski had their practical work experiences at Kaiser Permanente, Emily Ross received her work experience in the Parks and Recreation Department for the City of Folsom, while Georgio Kilronomos received his in the Public Works Department of the City of Folsom, and Brittany Fox received hers in the Manager’s Office for the City of Folsom.

This celebration was to honor these students who participated in this program and recognize the businesses that were willing to help educate them.

Dr. John Dixon, principal of Vista del Lago, also attended this event. When asked how he felt about the program’s success he responded, “I feel elated, honored, and proud of both the students who had the courage to do this, the industry partners who offered their time and resources to help them, and Mrs. Lemon and Dr. Williams who had the vision to pursue this.”

But the road to becoming a part of this program was not easy; each student has to research a career, apply, interview with a committee, contact an intern mentor, meet with a teacher coordinator weekly, write journal entries on their experiences, get evaluated by the mentor and coordinator, and present their experience to an SAT preparatory class.

“They were willing to take on the responsibilities of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Lemon, Acknowledging the efforts of her students at the ceremony.

“The effects on Vista will be peripheral. And when students become successful, it reflects Vista,” said Dixon.

For the creators, participants and supporters of this program, V.S.P.P. is viewed as not only positive program with good intentions, but an essential program that will help cultivate a successful generation of high school students with high aspirations into professional men and women.

Lemon also explains the programs importance because, “Students are trying to prepare for careers that don’t even exist yet – the world is constantly changing,” said Lemon of the program’s importance.

Other than the nine student participants in the program this summer, three other Vista del Lago attendees participated by joining the V.S.P.P. Committee– senior Kelly McGartland, senior John Emmick and junior Grant Lemon. All three spoke at the event.

“[While on the committee] from beginning to end, we tried to incorporate our student opinion,” said McGartland.

And for Emmick, he believed that during the program, “The most profound thing we were forced to experience was to grow up.”

What makes this program so essential and important? “You don’t have to wait until college to start vocational training,” said Lemon.

Other students also spoke at the event to share their experiences.  said that, “This internship changed me a lot. It made me more outgoing and willing to try new things,” said Klironomos. “Before, I was shy and nervous, now I’m ready to do new things.”

But Williams and Lemon not only wanted to help these students experience work in a professional environment, they wanted these students to have an opportunity to ensure that their career path is right for them. And for Piwinski and Mendez, it did just that.

“It’s one thing to see it on TV or in a textbook,” said Piwinski. “But I can’t describe how it feels to be in an operating room.” When describing the two things she would take away with her she said, “One: behind every operation, there is a person. And two: this is what I want to do.”

For Mendez, this opportunity provided her with the comfort she needed when it came to her career choice. “I’ve always wanted to be a doctor,” she said, “and this internship confirmed that this is where I belonged.”

“The effect of this program has been profound,” said Williams. “And this coming year we hope for it to be even bigger.”