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September 30, 2012

Career professionals connect with students

DUNCAN — Someday, Horace Mann Elementary students could be doctors, lawyers, electricians or police officers. Wednesday, the elementary third, fourth and fifth-graders got insight into those professions.

Horace Mann held its Career Day, which featured 12 professionals in varying careers. Those professionals set up in classrooms in the building, which the students rotated among. The guests talked to the students about their career paths.

“We’re making a connection of careers and schools,” Principal Janice Gay said.

Although the Duncan School District has a stronger push toward connecting education to career paths, Erica Stuck, Horace Mann fifth-grade teacher, came up with the idea of bringing in the people who know the careers.

Additionally, all teachers in the school dressed up to represent a career. Gay was dressed as a veterinarian, while Stuck donned Army fatigues.

Stuck said the Career Day was important for the students because it got them thinking about where they would like to go in life. It also let them know how important education is to achieving those goals.

“It gave them a personal experience; it was almost hands on,” Stuck said. “It showed the importance of education.”

And it didn’t just focus on careers heading in one direction. It showed careers that require college and careers that require a high school diploma. It featured careers students may have thought of, including doctors and lawyers, and some they may not have considered, including insurance agents and soldiers.

Stuck said the work of Career Day started in her classroom before Career Day ever came to be.

“I’ve been talking to my class about careers,” Stuck said.

She said the students were attentive to the speakers. She said the teachers and students had fun learning about the various careers.

But Career Day is just one step in teaching students about the job market.

Throughout the school district, teachers are helping students make the connection between education and careers.

At Duncan Middle School, two groups of 28 students are enrolled in the STEM class, which gets them thinking about careers based in science, technology, engineering and math.

The school district is also the pilot school for the Careers Pathways program. The program is introducing the concept of career aspirations to students as young as elementary students and is tying those aspirations to what is being taught in the classroom.

Gay said it’s important for elementary teachers to start making the connection between school and job because it will get students thinking about was classes they need to take in middle school and high school to give them a better idea of their chosen career paths.

“If that’s what you want to be, this is what it’s going to take,” Gay said.

“We’re making the connection of why it’s important.”

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