Energizing Education

Maryland schoolteachers Steven Hensley (l.) and Bobby Burkhart take a break from learning about how Potomac Edison line crews use bucket trucks and other company vehicles to perform their jobs safely.

July 26, 2021

Have you ever toured the inside of a substation? Or, traveled more than 40 feet into the air in an aerial bucket? Two Maryland schoolteachers are getting to experience these and other utility-related activities through the Maryland Chamber Foundation’s 2021 Teacher Externship Program with Potomac Edison.

The Teacher Externship Program is a four-week learning session that pairs high school teachers with top Maryland businesses to provide hands-on training in industries related to the subjects they teach. When the teachers return to their classrooms, they share the experience with students through enhanced lesson plans and activities to make them aware of the various career opportunities available. Potomac Edison is one of 13 Maryland companies participating in the 2021 program.

Customer Accounts Manager Tim Troxell helped to set up the curriculum for the schoolteacher’s externship, along with fellow Potomac Edison employees Don McGettigan, director, Operations Services; Jim Painter, director, Operations Support; and Nikki Spiker, manager, Human Resources. The program is being held at Williamsport Service Center and runs from July 12 to Aug. 6.

“I feel like a principal at a high school,” Tim said with a chuckle. “We’ve had overwhelming support from our employees filling in as adjunct professors. They created presentations, scheduled field trips, and have been really enthusiastic about sharing their knowledge with our visiting teachers.”

Meet the Teachers

Steven Hensley is a physics teacher at Walkersville High School (Frederick County), and Bobby Burkhart is a biology teacher at Williamsport High School (Washington County). The two educators were chosen out of 10 applicants to participate in the Maryland Chamber Foundation’s 2021 Teacher Externship Program with Potomac Edison.

In addition to spending time in the field, teachers Bobby Burkhart and Steven Hensley will meet with company executives to learn about various aspects of Potomac Edison’s operations, including service reliability, engineering and design, substations, meter reading, vegetation management and emerging technologies.

Tim added that at first, many of the presenters were concerned that they wouldn’t have enough material to fill their educational session. “After they started putting their presentations together, several of the instructors asked to have more time with the teachers,” he said. “I think a lot of employees don’t actually realize how much they do and how important their jobs are to serving our customers and our company’s success.”

“Developing qualified talent is vitally important for the future of our company and for ongoing economic development efforts across the state,” said Jim Sears, president, Maryland Operations, and a board member of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce. “We are enjoying hosting Bobby and Steven this summer to give them key insights into our business that will both help inform their teachings and generate awareness about career opportunities with Potomac Edison.”