Extending Her Learning Beyond the Classroom

By Hutchison Leads Director Kathryn Jasper
What do raptors, jail calls, and Andre the Giant have in common?
During the fall semester, nearly thirty seniors took the “so, what did you do this summer?” conversation to the next level by presenting their summer internship experiences to panels of faculty and staff. These girls engaged in summer internships through Hutchison Leads, identifying an area of interest or passion, securing a site, researching their field, and completing 40 hours on site.

Leadership development at Hutchison takes on many forms, and the internship program is one such example. Through this process, girls work with leaders in career fields, learning more about the careers, the trends and issues within the field, as well as about themselves. A core principle of Hutchison Leads is that every girl is a leader and this is one way girls can display leadership in their own unique manner.

The beauty of the internship process is that girls are able to deeply explore an interest beyond the classroom, while earning transcript credit. Because girls can choose to intern in nearly any area of their choosing, there has been a wide variety in not only the types of internships, but also the location – girls have interned both across the city and around the world. They have traveled by helicopter to procure organs, analyzed confidential data sets, developed social media plans for marketing firms, and assisted in veterinary procedures.

So, what about those raptors, jail calls, and Andre the Giant? All three of these things were a part of intern panel presentations this fall. Alex worked in rehabilitation at the Teton Raptor Center. Robin and Mallory screened calls from defendants in jail to their families in search of evidence for the Shelby County District Attorney’s office. And Abigail observed a Semmes Murphey patient with a pituitary tumor, which was the same tumor that Andre the Giant had, sparking Abigail to research more about the tumor.

And while the observations, interactions, and experiences themselves are certainly an integral part of the internship process, the educator in me sees that the real learning occurs when something changes, something “clicks” within the girl herself. The “aha” moment, if you will, of the internship is the differentiator with our internship program. Through debrief meetings, girls meet with Hutchison Leads staff to draw out those moments and clearly define these reflections.

I saw this happen this year with Robin, mentioned earlier for her work with the Shelby County DA’s office. Robin sought the DA’s office as a placement due to her interest in the legal field and curiosity of criminal law, sparked by her love for the show
Criminal Minds. After discovering a key piece of evidence for a trial, observing a vehicular manslaughter jury trial with an innocent verdict, and speaking with the DA’s team about the Noura Jackson mistrial, Robin realized that the law went deeper than right or wrong. Accused criminals had families that loved them unconditionally. Prosecutors sometimes lost trials, no matter if they felt the defendant was guilty, and cases affect attorneys deeply, years later. Robin shared with her panel the emotional side of law and how her interaction in Criminal Court inspired her to consider the criminal psychology field.

And then there’s Jordan – Jordan interned with the Methodist University Hospital Transplant Institute. In her time there, she not only observed rounds, conferences, and patient interactions, but also grappled with medical ethics, something that surprised her. How do the doctors decide who to recommend for transplant? Who makes “the list?” Jordan sat in on these listing meetings, listening to doctors debate qualifications and statistics of the patients. During her intern panel presentation at Hutchison, a panelist gave a scenario of a patient and asked Jordan if she would recommend transplant. She reflected that it is incredibly hard to decide who gets an organ – potentially, who gets to live and die.

Transformation happens when girls immerse themselves in authentic learning experiences. Each summer, over half of our seniors engage in this meaningful experience - one that can change the course of their life as they confirm a career passion (or realize an ill fit) and one that can teach them more about themselves.

If you are interested in learning more about the internship program or in hosting a Hutchison Leads intern, please email Kathryn Jasper, Hutchison Leads Director,


Kathryn Jasper serves as Hutchison Leads Director. Mrs. Jasper holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Science from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Before assuming her current position, she taught upper school social sciences at Hutchison. She also has experience as a classroom teacher for Memphis City Schools and director of Camp Gailor Maxon in Monteagale, Tennessee.

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Hutchison is the leading private girls school in Memphis for ages 2 years old through twelfth grade.