Area schools get kids thinking about careers at younger age

Elementary schools from several districts held programs connected to In-Demand Jobs Week

Many people see career education as a high school-level focus, but schools across the Dayton region held events this week to expose elementary school kids to possible career paths.

Northmont, Dayton, Kettering, Xenia and Springboro are some of the districts in the region that held events and activities centered on exploring careers for their elementary school students.

“It is extremely important to have our younger students exposed to as many careers as possible at an early age so when it comes time to make decisions on what to do with their lives, they can make an informed decision,” said Angela Clifford, community engagement coordinator for Northmont.

Clifford helped organize an A-Z career event on Saturday, April 30 that brought more than 120 students to Northmont High School and exposed them to careers.

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Guidelines from the Ohio Department of Education suggest students should be exposed to career possibilities at a young age. ODE works with OhioMeansJobs to help students connect classroom learning to future jobs. On their website, ODE suggests getting students to identify what they enjoy and are good at, which can help them identify what they want to do in the future.

This week was Ohio’s In-Demand Jobs week, highlighting jobs that businesses are currently recruiting for heavily. Local schools were encouraged to show their students possible careers.

Kari Basson, a spokeswoman for Kettering schools, said the district plans to expand the district’s career exploration programming for elementary school kids next year. On Wednesday, fifth-grade students from Beavertown Elementary went to Kettering Fairmont High School to tour the career technology center and talk to students and teachers.

Several local high schools have in-house career tech centers. At others, students interested in career-specific programming travel to their countywide CTC school. But in all of those cases, getting kids familiar with what those programs offer makes them more likely to think about careers at an early age.

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Springboro schools spokesman Scott Marshall said elementary kids in the district had videos from parents who talked about their jobs, discussions about possible careers and a “career day” on Friday, where kids could dress up as what they want to be when they grow up.

On Wednesday, about 800 students from Dayton Public Schools went to Welcome Stadium, where 24 trucks were parked outside of the stadium and kids could talk to the people in the trucks and learn about a new career.

Sherry Gale, director of College Credit Plus and scholarships for DPS, organized the event and said exposing kids to careers early is something the district superintendent, Elizabeth Lolli, is prioritizing.

“The idea is to help students start thinking at younger ages about all the possibilities of careers,” Gale said.

Groups of about 15 students walked around to the trucks. By the end of the event, Gale said the students would have been exposed to at least 12 careers.

“I think we all learn more and remember more when we involve more of our senses and actually are actively participating in our learning,” Gale said. “And so this gives them the opportunity for that.”

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