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Cheltenham Launches Senior Internship Experience Co-op Program

Cheltenham High School is launching a first-of-the-region internship experience co-op program to assist career-driven seniors in exploring career avenues and learning technical and employability skills. The program enables seniors to earn credit toward graduation while completing paid, work-based learning experiences that align with post-secondary career goals.


Pennsylvania Department of Education established guidelines for the program, which is meant to connect with and lead to postsecondary programs of study or additional training after high school, as an option to serve the needs of students including but not limited to the following:

  1. Students seeking training in career and technical areas not presently being offered at the Eastern School for Arts & Technology.
  2. Serve students who are unable to gain admission to a career and technical education (CTE) program (such as at Eastern) due to excessive applicants.
  3. Serve students who may drop out of school because of financial, domestic and/or scholastic problems.
  4. Provide training for students who need an alternative form of education which meets their unique needs.
  5. Special populations.
  6. Students seeking further clarity and experience related to his/her career path prior to enrolling in a two or four-year post-secondary school.


“The big idea is that with work-based learning, each student has opportunities to personalize his or her education based on their career interests,” said program coordinator Brittney McKenna. “Work-based learning provides students with opportunities to explore a career theme of interest while learning a set of technical and employability skills that integrate into or complement their academic studies.”


To support the individualized work-based learning experience, co-op seniors will enroll in a course, which will include instruction related to career acquisition, retention, and advancement. At the same time, those students will earn two credits for approved, off-campus employment opportunities during the second half of the school day to develop workplace-appropriate social skills, and hone their career acquisition and  retention skills by participating in occupational-focused experiences in community-based placements. These students learn transferable employability skills such as collaboration, critical thinking and problem-solving skills related to a professional setting.


In addition to providing job coach support, McKenna will identify, develop and manage interdependent relationships among the school, employer and student. Co-op employers will be able to utilize her support as needed during and in-between assessments of success in the work environment. Employers will pair students with mentors who provide support and supervision. McKenna will visit students’ worksites, conduct performance evaluations, and collect performance evaluations from their mentors. The area of training may be in any career and technical education area where there are needs for trained persons and must relate to the student’s career objective. 


At the conclusion of senior year, co-op students may graduate with nationally recognized credentials. Postsecondary institutions can award college credit to students who demonstrate the 21st-century skills needed for success, using earned scores on the appropriate National Occupational Competency Testing Institute (NOCTI) assessment. The NOCTI offers a nationally recognized credential that measures the skills that represent critical knowledge needed for success in the workplace foundational, work-ready skills.


Businesses who’d like to hire motivated high school seniors for paid, career-oriented work experience are encouraged to contact co-op coordinator Brittney McKenna at for more information. Prospective employers, which do not have to be in Cheltenham, must provide proof of Workman’s Compensation Insurance and compliance with federal and state statutes.