Nurturing Future Professions Through Internship Experiences at GPAEA

Holly Forrester working with Student

Beyond Great Prairie Area Education Agency’s (GPAEA) mission to provide exceptional services to schools, GPAEA has become a hub for nurturing the next generation of professionals through robust internships. Each year, GPAEA welcomes a diverse cohort of interns from around the nation, bridging the gap between academic knowledge and practical experience. This symbiotic relationship between seasoned professionals and aspiring young talents not only benefits the interns but also contributes to the continuous growth and evolution of the agency.

One of the stars of GPAEA's internship program is Trudy Jacobs, an Educational Audiology Intern from the University of Iowa. Trudy's journey with GPAEA began when she was paired with Alyssa Ottmar, an experienced Educational Audiologist. Trudy shared, "Interning at GPAEA has been an eye-opening experience. It's one thing to learn about educational audiology in a classroom, but being in the field and working alongside Alyssa has given me a profound understanding of the real-world challenges and opportunities in this field."

Trudy Jacobs working with Student

Educational Audiology Intern Trudy Jacobs works with a student to calibrate a hearing device.


Trudy's sentiment highlights one of the most significant advantages of internship experiences: the hands-on application of theoretical knowledge. The transition from textbooks to practical situations can be daunting, but a GPAEA internship offers a safe and supportive environment for interns to apply what they've learned in a real-world context. Trudy's collaboration with Alyssa not only enhanced her knowledge but also enriched the educational audiology services provided by GPAEA.

Similarly, Holly Forrester, an Occupational Therapy Intern from the University of South Dakota, found her niche at GPAEA working alongside Kristen Flores, an experienced Occupational Therapist. Holly shared her perspective, saying, "GPAEA has been an incredible platform for me to develop my skills and grow as an occupational therapist. Kristen's mentorship has been invaluable, and I've had the opportunity to work with a diverse range of students, each with unique needs."

Holly Forrester working with Student

Occupational Therapy Intern Holly Forrester working with an OT student.


Occupational therapy, like many professions, relies heavily on practical experience. By providing interns like Holly the opportunity to work directly with students, GPAEA contributes to developing competent professionals who can make a real impact in the field. This synergy between experienced practitioners and interns creates a supportive and nurturing environment that fosters growth and innovation.

GPAEA's commitment to nurturing future professionals extends beyond individual intern experiences. The agency actively engages in mentoring, providing guidance, and facilitating learning opportunities for interns. This investment in the future workforce not only elevates the quality of services GPAEA provides but also strengthens the educational community as a whole.

Furthermore, GPAEA's internship program has a ripple effect that extends beyond its borders. Trudy Jacobs and Holly Forrester, along with other interns, will go on to become professionals in their respective fields, taking with them the knowledge, skills, and values instilled during their time at GPAEA. This, in turn, enhances the quality of educational services nationwide, creating a positive impact on the lives of countless students.

The experiences of Trudy Jacobs and Holly Forrester highlight the invaluable role that internships play in bridging the gap between classroom learning and real-world application. By fostering a symbiotic relationship between experienced professionals and the next generation of talent, GPAEA not only benefits its interns but also contributes to the overall growth and excellence of the educational community. Their passion, experiences, and commitment to their fields will undoubtedly continue to shape the lives of students. As we celebrate their journey, we also celebrate the spirit of collaboration and mentorship that empowers future professionals like Trudy and Holly to make a lasting impact.

Every child. Every classroom. Every day. We are GPAEA.