The Academic Leadership Alliance (A•L•A) is a partnership that began in 2003, when the McAllen Economic Development Corporation, Region One Education Service Center, and RGV LEAD entered into an agreement that they would work together to strengthen the employer/educator connection, with the ultimate goal of making classroom instruction more relevant in order to provide more productive and successful employees in the future.
During the A•L•A experience, educators spend two weeks at employer worksites, then spend a week developing lesson plans and counseling materials that are used with students in the academic year following the experience. Educators share the materials they have developed with their employer partners before using the materials with students in the fall. Many employer-educator partnerships have developed, and thousands of students benefit from instruction based on Externship experiences every year.
In A•L•A, RGV LEAD asks employers to treat their Educator-Externs like employees. The resulting experience gives employers the opportunity to have a positive impact on the development of the “future workforce” that business and industry need. School districts recruit educators as participants, providing these individuals with the opportunity to learn first-hand about employers’ needs, both “hard skills” (mathematics, communication, computer literacy) and “soft skills,” such as working in teams, communicating effectively, and demonstrating good work habits.
School districts assign their own personnel to serve as coordinators for their districts. These District Coordinators work closely with the A•L•A Regional Coordinator and other members of the A•L•A leadership team throughout the summer. At the end of the experience, all participants complete evaluations, which are then analyzed and summarized for the leadership team and business partners.
Participating employers and educators consistently report positive experiences, and many school districts and employers are multi-year participants.
Funding for the A•L•A Summer Educator Externships is provided through in-kind and cash support of the McAllen Economic Development Corporation, Region One Education Service Center, Mission Economic Development Corporation, Workforce Solutions, school districts, and individual employers.