Bertram Rantin

March 27, 2014

RANTIN: Career lessons on land and wheels

Satchel Ford Elementary School students got a glimpse of their future professional landscapes Thursday, and the road ahead is looking promising.

Satchel Ford Elementary School students got a glimpse of their future professional landscapes Thursday, and the road ahead is looking promising.

The Richland 1 school was a gathering spot for more than two dozen area professionals from various fields as it held its annual career fair. This year’s event also featured a Career on Wheels on the school’s playground and parking lot. Those areas were lined with fire trucks, police cars, ambulances, taxis, television vans, utility repair and lawn trucks as student interacted with those who use vehicles in their jobs.

After a mini-parade of the vehicles, students got a close-up view of the skills involved in each profession and the educational background required of those jobs.

“We wanted them to know that the things that we are doing here (in the classroom) pay off in the long run when they are seeking a career,” said Satchel Ford guidance counselor Kimberly Johnson.

Johnson said more than 25 jobs were represented within 16 major career clusters emphasized at the school including education and training, finance, health science, manufacturing, marketing, and government and public administration.

Even a robotic dog from the University of South Carolina’s College of Engineering was on hand to help demonstrate the wonders of engineering.

Thursday’s professionals were spread across the school cafeteria and along the outside of the building as students rotated between the various stations. Many of the visitors – including James Hutchinson, a licensed master plumber – have children at Satchel Ford.

“These are the true stakeholders who want to see them achieve,” said Claudia Brooks, Satchel Ford’s interim principal.

Fifth grade teacher Chelsi Phillips said her students took advantage of the opportunity to explore practical questions such as the educational requirements, expected pay and job satisfaction in the various career fields.

“They’re curious for sure,” Phillips said. “I think the exposure is very important. They are able to connect the careers to people in their communities and be steered one way or another.”

Satchel Ford students said the day had given them much more to think about regarding their possible future careers.

“I’ve been looking hard at computer programming,” said fifth-grader Jamison Welch. “But I’ve also been looking at being in the Coast Guard now because they stop drug dealers and that could be fun.”

A classmate, Madison Felder, said the fair had shown her that many careers are not always what they appear to be on the surface.

“It might look boring, but it could actually be fun and creative,” she said.

School officials are hoping those types of impressions will have lasting effects, as the students prepare to take their places in the workforce years from now.

“I would hope that they would see that they can be anything they want to be and it’s attainable,” Brooks said.

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