SFPUC Stationary Engineer, Darrell Andrews, explains to a group of high school science teachers how the “Living Machine” at SFPUC headquarters re-uses wastewater, reducing on-site water consumption by 60%.

San Francisco Public Utilities Commission Teacher Externships

Community Benefits News: School’s IN for Summer!

By Kory Loucks-Powell, Baywork

The last week in July, SFPUC staff from across the agency helped coordinate a week-long on-site learning experience (i.e. “externship”) for a very enthusiastic and highly engaged group of high school science teachers. This SFPUC community benefits project was made possible through a partnership with:

  • BAYWORK, a regional collaborative of water and wastewater industry employers focused on workforce development, staff training, and candidate development (www.baywork.org)
  • Water Career Pathways Consortium, a grant-funded effort to raise awareness about careers in the water and wastewater industry (www.cawatercareers.org); and
  • IgnitEd, a nonprofit organization focused on transforming STEM education – i.e. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. (www.igniteducation.org).

The six participating teachers spent the week touring six SFPUC facilities in five days learning about SFPUC services, operations, and related careers. By the end of the week, the teachers had already begun devising curriculum that would incorporate their newfound understanding, knowledge, and appreciation for SFPUC and the fascinating world of water and wastewater science into their classrooms this fall.


“I learned that the employees at the SFPUC love what they do. It is really exciting from an educator’s perspective.” Ava Chiao, a biology teacher at Independence High School and the East Side Unified High School District Water Career Pathways Grant Coordinator, who helped plan and run the event.

“It was a great experience for both the teachers and staff, I think the teachers developed some amazing ideas to bring back to their students.” Community Benefits Workforce Development Manager, Steven Currie.

Over 35 SFPUC staff from six SFPUC facilities contributed to the teachers’ experiences including engineers, machinists, water and wastewater treatment operators, customer service representatives, sewer cleaning crews, managers, and students with Project Pull, as well as interns, to get a comprehensive picture of what skills are needed to do the work that they do.

Special thanks to all the SFPUC staff and interns who contributed to this project including:

  • Wastewater Enterprise: Darrell Andrews, Steve Ardrey, Jose Banaria, Desmond Barca, Catherine Curtis, Brenda Donald, Tony Flores, John Hanson, Lewis Harrison, Charles V. Johnson, Domenec Jolis, Laurie Kum, Ken Lee, Diane McHenry, Mark Middleton, Mike Patolo, Polly Perkins, Jonathan Smith, Daniel Whitlock
  • Water Enterprise: Rohit Advani, John Buchner, Jonathan Chow, Ed Forner, Paul Gambon, Don Lampe, Kory Loucks-Powell, John Mallia, Jordi Vasquez, Pete Woolery
  • Power Enterprise: Mike Totah
  • Business Services: Glorina Crisostomo
  • Infrastructure: Daniel Alvarado, Angelo Chan, Ivy Fine, Jesus Gonzales Teena Redhorse, Daniel Sanchez, Victor Shih, Laura Wen
  • External Affairs: Precious Amaechi, Steven Currie, Stephanie Dam, DiAngelo Gleaves, Nathalie Guillen, John Hanson, Mutheu Kivuvani, Esa Medina-Kim, Fatir Muhammad, Kelly Omran, Curtis Rollins, Victor Qiu, Hannah Wendlandt, Iyabo Williams

NOTICE: We want your input! The SFPUC is proud to be the first public utility in the nation to adopt Environmental Justice and Community Benefits policies. We’re conducting a survey to learn about staff perceptions of the SPFUC’s efforts to communicate and share news about the work we’re doing (like this teacher externship program) to benefit the communities in which the agency operates. The survey results will be used to improve how we communicate with diverse communities moving forward. Your responses will be strictly confidential and anonymous. For more info about this survey contact Rahel Marsie-Hazan at rahel@davis-pr.com

Take the survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PUCcommsurvey