Emerson J. Dillon Middle School classrooms transformed into a job fair during a career exploration event Nov. 16.
Phoenix students in fifth through eighth grades had the opportunity to attend three separate career day sessions where they met with employees and experts from a variety of fields. Representatives from healthcare, law enforcement, arts, business, architecture, technology, engineering, automotive and other job sectors were available to provide first-hand insight and advice to the students as they prepare for the future.
“We have more than 40 people representing as many career fields as we can,” said EJD counselor Andrew Quirk. “For our fifth- and sixth-graders, this serves as the foundation of their exploratory search, and our seventh and eighth-graders can build on their already established skills and interests.”
The event enabled students to ask questions about specific jobs and learn more about the education and skills required of certain positions. The format of the event also allowed students to gain a thorough understanding of their desired career paths, whether it be a blue-collar or white-collar position.
“We think outside of the box and really try to bring in as many CiTi BOCES programs and local connections as we can,” Quirk said. “It’s great having current and former students come in and talk about their own experiences.”
Emerson J. Dillon Middle School was buzzing with activity as students recently explored nearly three dozen job opportunities.
Career Day, organized by the guidance department, introduced students to employers and workers representing a variety of job sectors. Area business owners were on hand to discuss all aspects of their jobs, ranging from education to daily responsibilities.
“This gives the students a better understanding of the world around them and what they can do after graduation,” said counselor Katherine Barber.
Fifth- through eighth-graders completed a career profile and attended three sessions that best matched their interests. The sessions included health, law enforcement, the armed services, education, culinary, arts and entertainment, nuclear engineering, firefighting, veterinary science and more.
“By having so many different businesses and organizations available, students can really learn about the things they are interested in doing for a career,” Barber said. “They’re able to make those connections. It’s a great event and it gives the students some perspective – where they can see themselves in the future.”
To give students in the Phoenix Central School District a glimpse into what their future may hold, nearly three dozen community members recently came to Emerson J. Dillon Middle School to discuss their careers.
During multiple sessions throughout the morning, students had a chance to attend demonstrations and lectures in classrooms throughout the building. Professionals from law enforcement, government, health, hospitality services and the trades were on hand to give students a first-hand look at specific careers.
“It’s very important to have people from so many different sectors here to give the kids some perspective into possible career paths,” said EJD family and consumer science teacher Kara Barton. “The curriculum includes a huge career piece, and a career day like this helps them understand what the profession is all about.”
For the students who filed into the gymnasium to learn about dog training, they were surprised to find out that the position is much more than petting and yelling commands to a canine. In fact, guest speaker Linda Aloi, of K9 Capers, told the students that the pay scale for a dog trainer is largely dependent on their educational background.
“Definitely stay in school,” Aloi said as she kept a watchful eye on Charby, a 6-month-old black Labrador retriever she was training for assistive purposes. “Get your high school diploma and go on from there. How much money you make really depends on how much education you have behind you. There are lots of other variables, but salaries can be anywhere between $17,000 a year and $52,000 a year.”
Education was a recurring theme during career day, as each profession stressed the importance of staying in school. Careers in the trades such as auto repair are dependent on a solid educational background and plenty of hands-on experience, according to Rich Rainville, a guest speaker representing the Career and Technical Education program at the Center for Instruction, Technology & Innovation.
“If you’re going to be an auto repair technician, you have to be good at math and have a computer background,” Rainville said. “The technical manuals require a higher level of reading, so education is really important.”
Middle school students at E.J. Dillon gave thought to their futures at the school’s annual Career Day.
Students were allowed to select their top five choices from a list of 40 careers. They received their schedules in homeroom; outlining three sessions of their choosing that spanned a half day.
A variety of professionals, from the entertainment world to the medical field, were asked to prepare a 40 minute classroom presentation. Several speakers were Phoenix alums, including Architect Phil Squadrito, Preschool Teacher Lisa Balles, Cosmetologist Korena Grover, F.B.I. Agent Michael DuBois and Firefighter Dan Dunn.
Pictured are E.J. Dillon middle school students during the fifteenth annual Career Day. Students in this session watched as Veterinarian Scarlett Springate gave her dog Alex a mock exam. The retriever mix roamed around the classroom accepting pets and scratches from his new friends.
Others are current Phoenix residents; Pastry Chef Ann Pellegrino, “DJ Bob” O’Connell, Nurse Teri Lawless and Nuclear Operations Specialist Robert Pellegrino.
An emphasis was placed on ways in which school prepares students to be successful in any career. Chef Pellegrino mentioned how knowing a foreign language is helpful in her line of work. Words like Tiramisu and Crème Brulee come from Italian and French. Science and math are also used in baking, from substituting an ingredient to doubling a recipe.
Chef Pellegrino explained how there are two and four year programs in culinary arts. In a competitive industry, those scooped up for jobs are often the ones with the most education and experience.
Lisa Myers from the Merry-Go-Round Playhouse encouraged students to work in a field their passionate about. Students in the session shared their dreams of becoming stunt and voice actors.
Myers told students that if their interested in a theatrical career, they can begin building their special skills now. In the world of performance arts that can mean anything from knowing how to ice-skate and do a cartwheel to taking voice lessons.
Veterinarian Scarlett Springate of Highland Animal Hospital stressed the importance of education and getting good grades. To become a veterinarian, she had to obtain a Bachelor’s degree before going on to vet school for another four years.
Veterinarians need to have strong communication skills, despite working with patients that can’t verbalize their symptoms. Springate often has to relay information to an animal’s owner.
Special Agent Michael DuBois is no stranger to the Phoenix Central School District. DuBois graduated in 1983, and hadn’t been back until this Career Day visit.
DuBois, who now manages F.B.I. agents, started his career as a social studies teacher, and since then has held a job as a police officer and detective. One of the most important documents that he refers to daily is the constitution, a historical document he learned of as a student.
Patrick McDougall, a Sound Recording Engineer, emphasized in his presentation the connection between skills learned in school, and those needed to be successful in the workplace. He urged students interested in becoming sound engineers to take music theory and technology courses in high school. Understanding the physics of audio is also important.