OREMC Host Site For Glynn County Teacher Externship Program
For the second year in a row, OREMC participated in the Glynn County Teacher Externship program, hosting five Glynn County educators over two days, immersing them in the day-to-day operations and getting to know the people behind the power. From a ride in a bucket, feeling the weight of the lineworker’s utility belt, being briefed on the “big screen” in the Control Center and seeing a demonstration of a self-healing electric system of the future, the educators quickly realized there was more to electricity than simply flipping a switch.
The strong sense of family and the communication between employees, often without saying a word to one another, were two things that stood out to Dr. Katie Beth Brooks, assistant professor of English at the College of Coastal Georgia; Porscha Morgan, second grade teacher at Burroughs-Molette Elementary School; Deborah Gilfillan, sixth grade English, language arts and writing at Risley Middle School; Cynthia Gonzalez, ACCESS teacher at Brunswick High School; and Eric Benson, assistant superintendent grades 6-12.
They began day one with an overview of OREMC history, electric membership cooperatives and the cooperative form of business. Following that they met with the management team and human resources to better understand roles, cooperative culture, OREMC policies, procedures, training and educational requirements for various positions.
From there they got a bit more up close and personal look at the people behind the power at OREMC and learned about employees’ individual jobs and journeys. They learned that there were many different paths to jobs at OREMC, as some employees started as high school students, others advanced through on-the-job training and some required college degrees. The teachers also traveled to a job site where a line crew was building a new service location
Rounding out day one was a power switching operation in the dispatch/communications center. This demonstrated the process and communications between dispatchers and the linemen in the substations routing/rerouting power across the OREMC system. It also highlighted the IT connectivity of OREMC’s distribution system through Supervisory Control and Date Acquisition or SCADA. For Jimmie Walker this was a real-life application of system integrations that he teaches his middle school students.
Day two began bright and early meeting with the crew at the Kingsland district office. Chatting with the lineman the teachers got a chance to try on some of the protective gear, including rubber gloves, sleeves. climbing and tool belts. Then they were given a pole climbing and pole-top rescue demonstration, followed by a boat ride out to the 3.5 miles of line running from the mainland under two rivers and across the marsh to serve consumer-members living on Cumberland and Little Cumberland islands. There were questions abound regarding the 45 poles, how they were outfitted, how long it took to build and who climbed which poles. The fact that Cumberland Island didn’t get electric service until the 1960s was eye-opening in itself.
The purpose of the externship experience it to connect educators with business and industry to better understand how workforce needs and classroom learning connect. Doing so helps educators provide context for students, helping them understand how reading, writing, face-to-face communication, math, science and organization skills can be used in the real world. It also helps teachers give students a broader perspective on the different types of jobs available and the skills/education necessary to do those jobs.