It’s never too early to start thinking about a career.
Third- , fourth- and fifth-graders at Cartersville Elementary School got a firsthand look at a variety of occupations during the second annual Career Week last week.
The school’s 974 students were able to shadow employees at their jobs, listen to speakers from different companies and visit the high school during the week of college- and career-related activities.
“We are extremely happy with this year’s event,” school counselor Elaine Hite said. “... The support we receive from our administrators, teachers and parents ensures the success of our Career Week. Local businesses are willing to allow their employees to take a few hours off of work to speak to our students. Each presentation has been engaging and informative.”
Hite and fellow counselor Marty Knight started Career Week last year in response to House Bill 713, which mandated a course of study in career education in grades K-12.
“An indicator on the College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) was developed to assist students with career awareness in grades K-5,” Hite said. “Each grade level is required to learn about different grade-specific career clusters. There are 17 career clusters recognized by the Georgia Department of Education. Elementary schools across the state are implementing career-awareness activities to assist with the CCRPI indicators.”
The two counselors “began implementing career-awareness activities into our monthly classroom counseling lessons but felt we could do more to make these careers more relatable to our students,” Hite said.
“We began brainstorming, and Career Week was developed,” she said.
The first one “exceeded all expectations,” Hite said.
“We had great support from our administrators, teachers and parents,” she said. “The students were excited and walked away with valuable information regarding future career choices.”
While last year’s event was a huge success, the counselors “modified and added a few things this year,” Hite said.
“This year, we decided to have a college focus in addition to careers,” she said. “... Also, we [took] our fifth-graders on a tour of the career, technical and agricultural education classes at Cartersville High School.”
Local college mascots from Kennesaw State University, Georgia Highlands College and Reinhardt University visited the school Friday, and teachers wore their college colors/attire and spoke to their students about the options beyond high school, she said.
Monday was designated Job Shadow Day, where more than 260 students from all three grades went to work with someone to learn about his or her job.
“Students took a student interview form to complete during their job-shadowing experience,” Hite said. “This form consisted of questions for the student to ask the person they were shadowing and questions for the students to answer regarding their shadowing experience.”
Tuesday and Wednesday were Careers Days for the third-graders and fourth-graders, respectively. Each grade had its own set of speakers who talked to them about different careers.
“Both days, our volunteers spoke to multiple classes for approximately 25-minute sessions,” Hite said. “During their presentations, they discussed their job duties, requirements, working conditions, training/education as well as other detailed information pertaining to the career cluster they were representing.”
The third-graders listened to representatives from the human services, hospitality and tourism and energy career clusters: Jason Combs from the Cartersville Police Department; school social workers Paula Womack and Maria Hoffman from Cartersville City Schools; Lille Read from the Cartersville Downtown Development Authority; John Dooley and Chris Ingram from the Cartersville City Electric Department; Clark Wiedetz from Siemens; Marilyn Dabbs and Carla Zimmerman from the Cartersville City Schools Nutrition Department; and Cartersville Primary School Principal Melissa White.
“Career Week has been exciting,” third-grader Jocelyn Wright said. “I have enjoyed learning about different careers. My favorite part was Job Shadow Day, where I spent quality time with my father, who is a minister. I especially enjoyed working on the computer and making hospital visits.”
Fourth-graders heard from employees in the career clusters of science, technology, engineering and math, business management and administration, manufacturing and architecture and construction.
Speakers were Heather Jordan from Shaw Industries; Jeff Mullins from Smith Douglas Homes; Donny Holmes from Georgia Northwestern Technical College; Austin Landers from Sotheby’s International Realty; Rebecca Hruby from Liberty National; Cary Roth from Phoenix Air; Gil Spencer from Mohawk Carpets; Mike Weightman, Rory Green, Mary Alred and Ms. Dayton from Aquafil; Jacob Burson from Lockheed Georgia; Miles Chesley from Chemical Products Corp.; Lara Jeanneret from Lara J Designs; and Malcolm Pritchett from Target.
Fourth-grader Fernando Vital said Career Day was “so cool.”
“My favorite part was listening to the architecture and construction man,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to be an architect. It was fun to learn about the equipment used at construction sites and how many people are needed to construct buildings or homes. You need people like electricians, plumbers and architects.”
The Career Days were “a wonderful learning experience for our students,” Hite said.
“Our guest speakers came prepared with props, hands-on activities and engaging presentations that taught our students a lot about their grade-level-specific career clusters,” she said.
The fifth-graders split into two groups for a field trip to Cartersville High School Thursday and Friday, where they spent an hour to an hour and a half listening to Principal Marc Feuerbach and Assistant Principals Darrell Demastus and Marc Collier, watching a video created by the video broadcast students and touring the CTAE department while classes were in session to see each pathway offered at the school.
“They were able to see firsthand what our students experience in automotives, small-business development, health care science, graphic design, engineering and video broadcasting,” Feuerbach said, noting the school works hard to provide career pathways that meet community needs. “They also were able to see our dual-enrollment aeronautical program offered through Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
“Our classes are focused on both the curriculum of the course as well as employability skills, and I hope our fifth-grade students were able to see that in their brief time with us.”
“Our fifth-graders have been learning about career clusters since being enrolled at the primary school,” Hite said. “The courses and career pathways offered at the high school level align with many of the career clusters our students have been researching over the past four to five years.”
Feuerbach said the school staff members “love being involved with our feeder schools and letting the younger students in our school system know as much as they can about Cartersville High School.”
“Being a part of their Career Week allowed them to come on our campus and witness the types of classes they will have the opportunity to take when they are students here,” he said. “They are learning about a wide variety of careers during elementary school, and it is important for them to know what they can look forward to when they enter high school. It was a privilege to partner with our elementary school, and we look forward to continuously building our students up to be college and career ready.”
The trip was a big hit with fifth-graders Kalman Vannest and Gabriel Cox, who both said touring the high school was their favorite part of the week.
“I loved the engineering lab,” Kalman said. “There were so many computers, and I was in heaven.”
“I enjoyed learning about the graphic design classes,” Gabriel said. “I have also enjoyed learning about colleges this week.”
Friday also was Career Dress-Up Day, where students dressed as their future career choice and staff members wore their college gear and talked to students about their college experiences.
Overall, Hite said the school staff hoped students learned about the choices they have after high school.
“Our CES staff wants to see our students graduate and become contributing members of society,” she said. “Our goal is to provide them with necessary skills to be successful in college, the military or the workforce. With today’s technological advances and global competition, the way in which we work has changed. We want to work collaboratively among all four schools to provide our students with a vision at graduation that will ensure a successful transition after high school. At the elementary school level, we begin the dialogue to help our students learn who they are, where they want to go and how they are going to get there. Our middle school counselors continue this exploration to include pathways and more specific occupations.”